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Philippines: ICRC will not rest until kidnapped staff member Eugenio Vagni is freed

02-07-2009 Interview

The ICRC is renewing its appeal for the release of staff member Eugenio Vagni. The organization's head of operations for East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific, Alain Aeschlimann, explains the efforts under way to resolve the crisis.

 How often has Eugenio been able to contact his family lately?  

Eugenio has had less contact with his family during the past month than he had in May. He was able to phone his wife only twice in June, for a total of only a few minutes. The first call took place on 2 June and the second last Friday, 26 June. It has now been more than five months since he was abducted. We know that being able to speak with his loved ones over the telephone is extremely precious to him. With more determination than ever, we are appealing for his immediate and unconditional safe release. His suffering must end at once.

 Did Eugenio mention if his health condition has improved or if it was worsening?  


Although Eugenio feels tired, he continues to show remarkable strength in the face of great adversity. His family is also displaying great stoicism. We will not comment further as we consider health information to be private and personal.

 What is the ICRC doing to speed up his release?  


Everything possible is being done to bring about his safe return. We are in close contact with everyone involved in efforts to resolve this crisis, in particular the local and national authorities. We are concerned for Eugenio's life, particularly when fighting takes place in Sulu, the island where he was kidnapped on 15 January. And we de plore the loss of life of so many people in Sulu in the wake of a series of recent clashes there.

 How was Eugenio's capture marked during the recent Red Cross commemorations?  


Last week, hundreds of Red Cross volunteers gathered in northern Italy to mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Solferino, where the scenes of suffering prompted Swiss businessman Henry Dunant to found the Red Cross. To see the concern of so many young volunteers for Eugenio and his family was very moving for all of us within the ICRC, as it was for his family in Italy. In the same spirit of humanitarian concern, we appeal once again to the abductors to release Eugenio now. Let him return home.


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