10 October 2017

Sudan: Abduction of Swiss Aid Worker in Darfur Continues

El Fasher — The Swiss Margaret Schenkel has been kidnapped by gunmen in North Darfur for three days since Saturday. The Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre strongly condemns the abduction of the aid worker.

The head of the documentation centre DRDC, Abdelbagi Jibril, told Radio Dabanga yesterday that the kidnapped Schenkel is known for her long-term aid to malnourished children in Darfur during her long stay in El Fasher.

"Her abduction by militiamen came at a critical time when the poor and the children need help and assistance in conflict areas, especially Darfur."

Schenkel, in her 60s, has been living and working as a volunteer relief worker in Darfur for about 20 years during which she rendered humanitarian service to the war victims and other poor people of the region, especially assisting malnourished children and their vulnerable families.

A group of gunmen stormed her home on Saturday evening, her neighbours in El Daraja El Oula district in El Fasher told Radio Dabanga. They forced her to embark a Land Cruiser at gunpoint and took her to an unknown destination.

It is not the first time for a humanitarian worker to be kidnapped in Darfur by militiamen. In a press statement, the DRDC said: "Abduction of relief workers in Darfur and the threats to their liberty and safety and personal integrity have been a regular practice in armed conflict-affected areas of Sudan in recent years. [... ] All the humanitarian abductees have been released unharmed after intervention of the government of Sudan.

"Such risks are growing day by day, especially following the untimely decision to withdraw the United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid) from the region." The Security Council renewed the mandate of Unamid until 30 June 2018, however the force is reduced by more than a third of the nearly 19,000 military troops and police officers.

The kidnappers have not yet made their motive for the abduction clear. According to Jibril, "Authentic local sources confirmed to DRDC that the militiamen that abducted Ms. Schenkel are under the command of a notorious militia leader who is currently serving within the ranks of the government of North Darfur State in an official public function. The abductors are recently disgruntled by the government delay of their monthly pay."

Merchant abducted

On Thursday, militiamen abducted merchant Hussein Fadul Ahmed from the market in Kabkabiya, North Darfur, and took him to an unknown destination. An activist in Kabkabiya told Radio Dabanga that nine perpetrators carried out the abduction.

"Militiamen arrived at the market on Thursday, driving a Land Cruiser with a Dushka machine gun mounted on top. They put Hussein in the car and drove off." The incident has been reported to the police and to Unamid.

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