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Sudan/Chad: ICRC maintaining efforts to secure release of abducted staff members Gauthier Lefèvre and Laurent Maurice

05-01-2010 Interview

The ordeal of abduction continues for ICRC staff members Gauthier Lefèvre, taken hostage in West Darfur, Sudan, on 22 October, and Laurent Maurice, seized in eastern Chad on 9 November, almost two months ago. Daniel Duvillard, ICRC head of operations for East Africa, explains the situation.

 

 
 
Daniel Duvillard, the ICRC's head of operations for East Africa 
   Has the ICRC received any recent information about what is happening to Gauthier and Laurent?  

The ICRC has been in direct contact with both of them. Furthermore, we continue to be in contact with the abductors and with the national and local authorities. We are following developments closely.

We are continuing to do everything we can to bring about the safe and rapid release of our colleagues. However, we are not in a position to discuss these efforts in detail, because we want to avoid saying anything that might jeopardize our colleagues'safety or efforts to secure their release.

 What else can the ICRC do?  

Our priority is to ensure that Gauthier and Laurent remain safe and that they are let go without any further delay and without conditions. It would not be helpful to discuss the ongoing efforts in detail.

The responsibility for the treatment and well-being of our colleagues is in their abductors'hands. We remain concerned about our colleagues'safety. We have been concerned from the very first day they were abducted. Their safety is what we care about most. Only an immediate and unconditional release could put an end to the ordeal.

We are acutely aware of the pain and distress experienced by the families of Gauthier and Laurent. We want them to know that we are doing everything we can to bring about their swift release. We try to comfort them, but only the release of their loved ones will bring them any real relief.

 What impact are the abductions having on your activities in Sudan and Chad?  

Because security is a major concern, it is constantly being reviewed. We are taking every possible precaution to ensure that our staff can work safely. Although we did have to suspend movements and adapt our field presence in eastern Chad and West Darfur, we are striving to maintain the essential services that no one else can provide. In particular, we are carrying on with our work in the camp for displaced people (IDPs) in Gereida, South Darfur, and with life-saving services such as emergency surgery performed at Abéché Hospital in eastern Chad. We are continuing to provide support for primary health-care centres and other local facilities, and for the activities of the Sudanese Red Crescent and the Red Cross of Chad.

In remote areas of Darfur and eastern Chad where very few other organizations can go, the ICRC had been involved in a range of activities such as making clean drinking water available and helping people support themselves through farming or herding. The fact that we have been forced to curtail our field presence means that we now provide fewer of these services. We deeply regret this situation. Our overriding priority is to obtain the release of our staff members as quickly as possible so that we can again bring all our resources to bear on the humanitarian work that needs to be done.

Finally, we want to stress that although our activities have been scaled down in particular areas, elsewhere in Chad and Sudan we are carrying on with our work as before.

See also: ICRC president calls for kidnapped staff members to be released unharmed