Aid workers taken hostage in Darfur freed: U.N.
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Twelve Sudanese aid workers taken hostage by
refugees this week in the volatile Kalma camp in Darfur have been
released, a spokesman for the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission
UNAMID said on Thursday.
The aid workers were taken hostage on April 11 in retaliation for the
arrest of a refugee last week by national security forces. Humanitarian
groups suspended operations in the camp after the hostages were taken.
Millions have been driven from their homes into camps and an
estimated 300,000 people have been killed in Sudan's western Darfur
region since mostly non-Arab rebels rose up in 2003 against Khartoum,
which mobilized militias to quash the revolt.
"The aid workers have been released and are in good condition," said UNAMID spokesman Chris Cycmanick.
They were released late on Wednesday after the United Nations mediated to resolve the situation, he said.
Kalma Camp in south Darfur is one of the most politicized camps in
the region, housing tens of thousands who fled the fighting and refuse
to go home until it is safe to do so.
Violence has fallen from its peaks in 2003 and 2004 in Darfur, but a
collapse in law and order has allowed gangs of armed men to rape, loot
and kill with impunity.
The Darfur aid operation, the world's largest, has been hampered by
government obstruction, expulsions, kidnappings and insecurity. UNAMID
this week said patrols to areas where rebels and the Sudanese army have
clashed had been hindered by government officials denying access and
In 2009, the government expelled 13 of the largest international aid
agencies from Darfur and information on the aid operation has since been
sparse, with remaining aid workers scared to speak out about conditions
in the region.
The agencies were thrown out after the International Criminal Court
issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for
genocide and war crimes in the region, charges he denies. Khartoum puts
the death toll from the conflict in Darfur at 10,000.
(Reporting by Deepa Babington)