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THREE LATVIAN AIR CREW WORKING FOR UN AIR SERVICE FREED FROM CAPTIVITY IN DARFUR

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THREE LATVIAN AIR CREW WORKING FOR UN AIR SERVICE FREED FROM CAPTIVITY IN DARFUR

United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

08 Dec 2010

KHARTOUM – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed the news that three Latvian men working as helicopter aircrew for the WFP United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, have been freed after more than a month in captivity.

WFP said that the three Latvians, a pilot, co-pilot and mechanic seized by gunmen in the South Darfur capital of Nyala on 4 November, would be flown to Khartoum before travelling home to Latvia.

"We are delighted that these three men have been freed and our thoughts are with their families in Latvia who will be reunited with them in the coming days," said WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran. "Now we can all celebrate their freedom."

"WFP has worked tirelessly with the government of Sudan and the government of Latvia to bring about their release," Sheeran said, adding that they were abducted while carrying out vital humanitarian work for the United Nations in Sudan.

The three men, Captain Artjoms Nalbandjans, co-pilot Janis Gindra and mechanic Kaspars Reihlers were part of a helicopter crew operated by the UNHAS in the Darfur region of Sudan. WFP manages UNHAS in Sudan.

Throughout their detention, WFP was assured that they were safe and well. WFP worked closely with the Government of Sudan at all levels for the safe release of the three men.

# # #

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries.

WFP now provides RSS feeds to help journalists keep up with the latest press releases, videos and photos as they are published on WFP.org. For more details see: http://www.wfp.org/rss

WFP has a dedicated ISDN line in Italy for quality two-way interviews with WFP officials.

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Amor Almagro,WFP/Khartoum, Tel. +249-1-83248001 ext. 2142, Cell. +249-91 217 4853

Peter Smerdon, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. +254-207-622-179, Cell. +254-733-528-911

Gregory Barrow, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 2330, Mob. +39 348 1325018

Caroline Hurford, WFP/London, Tel. +44-20-72409001, Mob. +44-7968-008474

Emilia Casella, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Mob. +41-792857304

Rene McGuffin, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-653 1149, Mob. +1-202-390 2579

Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-5566909, Mob. +1-646-8241112

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