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Three abducted UN air service crew members released in Darfur

7 June 2011 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today confirmed the release of three Bulgarian crew members who were abducted in January while working for the agency’s air service in the strife-torn Darfur region of Sudan.

The men, who worked for the WFP-run UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), appeared to be in good health, the agency said. They were abducted by armed men on 13 January at a landing strip in Um Shalaya, 60 kilometres southeast of the West Darfur capital of El Geneina.

“WFP is grateful to the Government of Sudan for its tireless efforts in securing the release of the three men who were seized while they were working to help the most vulnerable people in Darfur,” said WFP Regional Director Amer Daoudi in Khartoum.

WFP said it worked closely with the Government of Sudan at all levels for the safe release of the three men, and added that it did not pay a ransom to secure their release.

Last December three Latvian men working as helicopter aircrew for UNHAS in Darfur were freed after more than a month in captivity.

UNHAS flies aid workers from the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as journalists and others, to some of the hardest-to-reach emergency operations around the world. It plays a vital role in accessing remote locations and in cases where insecurity prevents travel by road.



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