9 October 2017

Sudan: Bern Demands Release of Swiss Woman Abducted in Darfur

El Fasher — The Swiss Foreign Ministry has called for the quick release of a Swiss aid worker who was kidnapped by unknown gunmen from her house in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, on Saturday evening.

"The Foreign Ministry is aware of the case of a Swiss woman kidnapped in Darfur," a spokesman told Reuters by email.

"Local representation is in contact with Sudanese authorities. Efforts to clarify the situation are in progress. Switzerland is calling for a rapid and unconditional release of the abducted person."

The Ministry did not give details about when the woman had been abducted or other details about her.

The neighbours of Swiss aid worker Margaret Schenkel in El Fasher's El Daraja El Oula district told Radio Dabanga that a group of gunmen stormed her home on Saturday evening. They forced her to embark a Land Cruiser at gunpoint and took her to an unknown destination.

They said that Schenkel has been living in Darfur for more than 20 years. She speaks Arabic fluently, and runs a centre for undernourished children in the North Darfur capital.

More than 20 foreigners were abducted for ransom -and released- in Darfur in the past two decades. Hundreds of Darfuris were kidnapped.

Several aid workers in Darfur have raised concerns over their safety following the decision of the UN Security Council on 29 June to reduce the number of peacekeepers in the restless region.

The Security Council renewed the mandate of the joint UN-AU Mission in Darfur (Unamid) until 30 June, however with a reduction of more than a third of the nearly 19,000 Unamid military troops and police officers present at the time.

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