NYALA - After 86 days in captivity in the South Darfur region of Sudan, British aid worker Patrick Noonan, who was working for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), has been released and is looking forward to seeing his family.
“All WFP staff are celebrating the release of Patrick, today,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. “He went to Darfur with the aim of helping vulnerable people and his kidnapping was a great strain on his family, friends and colleagues. We are thankful for his safe release.”
Working as a logistician in Nyala, Noonan had been in Sudan for about two years when he was abducted by armed men on the morning of 6 March 2012, along with a Sudanese driver who was released later on the same day.
WFP, along with the United Nation’s Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Government of Sudan authorities and the embassy of the United Kingdom had been working on the release in close cooperation with the relevant local authorities in Darfur.
UNAMID’s Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari, the UN Designated Official for security in Darfur, praised the efforts of the Government in securing Noonan’s release.
At the same time he warned that the abduction of humanitarian workers was a violation of international humanitarian law and that the perpetrators must be found and prosecuted.
The situation in Darfur remains volatile and insecurity is an issue that impedes the work of the humanitarian community serving the region. Since 2009, 40 humanitarian workers have been abducted, including Noonan and six air crew working with the UN Humanitarian Air Service which is managed by WFP.
"The international community in Sudan and Governor Hamad Ismail Hamad worked closely together to secure the release of Mr. Noonan, whose job was to bring desperately needed humanitarian aid to Darfur's most vulnerable people. I am aware of Governor Hamad's personal commitment and the efforts of South Darfur's security bodies that enabled the safe release of Mr. Noonan. It is now crucial that the Government of Sudan authorities pursue the hostage takers and bring them to justice," said Joint Special Representative Gambari.
For more information please contact:
Amor Almagro, WFP/Khartoum, Mob. + 249 912 174 853
Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 3854, Mob. +39 347 945 0634
Gregory Barrow, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 2330, Mob. +39 348 1325 018
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 556 6909, Mob. +1 646 8241 112
Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. +41 79 473 4570