“A group of armed men kidnapped yesterday three UNHCR workers, two Nepalese and a Sudanese, from Geneina,” the capital of West Darfur state, state government spokesman
“Police are searching for the kidnappers.”
UNHCR officials were not immediately available for comment, but its spokesman in Khartoum told AFP by text message that a meeting was underway to discuss the “urgent incident”.
A resident from Geneina told AFP that the gunmen came in a 4×4 vehicle.
“I saw some armed men ordering the three UN employees to get into their vehicle. They then drove off quickly,” he said on condition of anonymity.
“The incident happened near the main mosque of Geneina,” the resident said.
Darfur has been engulfed in a deadly conflict since 2003 when ethnic minority black tribes took up arms against President Omar al-Bashir’s Arab-dominated government.
As part of its counter-insurgency strategy the government turned to “Janjaweed” militias recruited from Arab tribes, and who have since been incorporated into official paramilitary units.
Experts say that militias in search of resources often turn on each other, and sometimes against the government even as Khartoum insists that violence in Darfur has ebbed.
Sunday’s abduction of UNHCR staffers is not the first in Darfur as several foreign and Sudanese aid workers have been abducted in the region over the years.
At least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in Darfur since the conflict first erupted in 2003, the UN says.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes and genocide charges related to Darfur, which he denies.
Sudan also wants UN peacekeepers who have been deployed Darfur, a region the size of France, since 2007 to leave.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
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South Africa is in a very real battle. A political fight where terms such as truth and democracy can seem more of a suggestion as opposed to a necessity.
On one side of the battle are those openly willing to undermine the sovereignty of a democratic society, completely disregarding the weight and power of the oaths declared when they took office. If their mission was to decrease society’s trust in government - mission accomplished.
And on the other side are those who believe in the ethos of a country whose constitution was once declared the most progressive in the world. The hope that truth, justice and accountability in politics, business and society is not simply fairy tale dust sprinkled in great electoral speeches; but rather a cause that needs to be intentionally acted upon every day.
However, it would be an offensive oversight not to acknowledge that right there on the front lines, alongside whistleblowers and civil society, stand the journalists. Armed with only their determination to inform society and defend the truth, caught in the crossfire of shots fired from both sides.
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Terry Pratchett forged his own sword from iron and meteorites purely for the occasion of the awarding of his knighthood.