Three aid workers of Samaritan’s Purse near Nyala were kidnapped on Tuesday in the late afternoon. The American organization confirmed that the three comprise an American woman and two Sudanese staff workers. They were kidnapped about 40 kilometers southwest of Nyala. It is the third kidnapping this year. The first two were linked to pro-government militia. Last year also all four kidnappings of international aid workers were also linked to militia previously associated with and armed by the government of Khartoum. The kidnappings started after the International Criminal Court asked for the arrest of President Omar al Bashir for war crimes. The situation in Darfur rapidly worsened this year despite the elections. Weekly almost 100 people are killed in fighting amongst local groups previously supported by the government, government bombings against rebels in West Darfur and militia attacking each other. The peace talks in Doha between the government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have been stalled.
According to the head of Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham, the three were driving with two vehicles together when they were stopped by armed men. “I have visited Darfur several times and it is one of the most difficult places in the world to work. I’m asking for the prayers from people around the world for a quick resolution and the safe return of our Samaritan’s Purse staff,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse in a statement. The US embassy in Khartoum and Sudanese government officials declared that they will work together to secure the safe return of the kidnapped staff. Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian-based aid organization headed by the son of the founder of Samaritan’s Purse, the famous evangelist Billy Graham. Samaritan’s Purse says it has provided $83.7 million in relief assistance to Sudan since 2001 including medical relief, clean water projects, food distributions, agricultural projects and the rebuilding of hundreds of churches destroyed in the country’s civil war.
Picture: Matt Powell – Samaritan’s Purse