Red Cross member abducted in Darfur, Sudan

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said one of its staff members has been kidnapped in Sudan's Darfur region. In a statement, the ICRC said that Gauthier Lefevre, a French national, was abducted Thursday near the town of Al Geneina in West Darfur.

It added that Lefevre was traveling in one of two clearly marked Red Cross vehicles when unidentified kidnappers seized him around midday local time. The ICRC said the man "was returning with other ICRC staff to El-Geneina after completing a field trip north of the town to help local communities upgrade their water supply systems." It also said that "he was travelling in one of two clearly marked ICRC vehicles when he was seized a few kilometres [miles] from the town."

The agency said it is working with local authorities to secure the man's release.

Foreign aid groups have faced increased hostility in Darfur since the International Criminal Court indicted Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir earlier this year for alleged war crimes.

Two workers for the Irish aid group GOAL were kidnapped in July and spent three months in captivity before being released last Sunday. Two civilian employees of the joint United NationsAfrican Union mission in Darfur still remain captive after being kidnapped in August.