WFP helicopter forced to land in Nuba Mountains, Sudan
An anti-aircraft unit of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) forced a helicopter to land in a rebel-controlled area in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan yesterday. The helicopter is contracted by the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The six employees are reportedly safe.
Contacted on Tuesday morning, Deputy Country Director Margot van der Velden stated that the aid organisation "has an indication that the six persons are safe. We are making every effort to ensure their release as soon as possible."
In a press statement released on Monday afternoon, the spokesman for the SPLM-N (peace negotiations, RD) Delegation, Mubarak Ardol, reported that “the helicopter was flying over an intense war zone” where the Sudanese Air Force continuously bombs civilian and military targets.
Ardol stated that “the six members of the helicopter team who claim to be working with the WFP are safe and unhurt.
“If it turns out that they are indeed WFP staff, and are not related to the Sudanese government, the SPLM-N is ready to release them immediately,” the statement concludes.
When contacted by Sudan Tribune, Ardol said all the members of the crew are Bulgarian, adding the incident occurred in an area located east of Kadugli on Monday afternoon (local time).
A WFP source told Sudan Tribune that a helicopter contracted to work for them in South Sudan, landed unexpectedly at a remote area in South Kordofan adding that the Sudanese Civil Aviation Authority succeeded in determining their location and that efforts are underway to ensure safety of the crew.
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