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Red Cross calls for unconditional release of kidnapped staff members

December 20, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, today called for unconditional and immediate release of ICRC staff members detained in Darfur and eastern Chad.

A French aid worker of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Gauthier Lefevre was abducted by a group called "the Freedom Eagles of Africa" near El-Geneina the capital of western Darfur state on October 22.

The Darfur based gunmen on November 9 kidnapped other two French aid workers in the northeast of the Central African Republic. They were seized in Birao, a town located near three borders where the Central African Republic adjoins Sudan and Chad.

"I appeal today to the sense of humanity of the abductors of Gauthier Lefèvre and Laurent Maurice. There can be no possible justification for harming a humanitarian aid worker,” Mr Kellenberger said.

The ICRC chief further stressed that the hostages do not work for or represent the interests any country but their sole purpose is to help those in need in the war affected areas.

The group said last November they target the French government for its support to the Chadian government and for hosting a Darfur rebel leader. However there are doubts on the claims of the gunmen as they are already asked the ICRC to a ransom that the Red Cross refuses to pay.

(ST)