Kidnappers release UN staff in Sudan’s Darfur

KHARTOUM (AA) – A U.N. staff member was released Friday by kidnappers after 20 days in captivity, the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said.

Felix Ngoma, a Zambian staff member with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), was abducted in Nyala, South Darfur, on July 6, the release said.

Ngoma “appears to be unharmed and in good condition. He will soon be flown back to his home country via Khartoum,” the statement added, without giving details about the identity of the kidnappers or how he was released.

“Ngoma was abducted…when gunmen driving on a land cruiser intercepted him along the road between UNAMID’s Regional Headquarters and Nyala town. The abductors forced him out of his vehicle at gunpoint before disappearing with him on their car,” the statement said.

Darfur has been ravaged by a deadly conflict since three rebel groups took up arms against the Khartoum government in 2003.

The U.N., which has described the situation in Darfur as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, has said that an estimated 300,000 people had been killed in the conflict and some 1.8 million displaced.

The Sudanese government, however, insists that the death toll does not exceed 10,000 people.

The Darfur conflict prompted in 2009 an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on a number of charges including genocide committed by government forces and allied militias.

With over 23,000 military and civilian personnel, UNAMID currently represents the world’s largest UN peacekeeping mission.

For the past five years, the mission lost around 60 personnel in attacks that had been usually blamed on unidentified gunmen.

By Mohamed al-Khatem

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