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Sudan/Chad: almost 100 days of ordeal for abducted staff members Gauthier Lefèvre and Laurent Maurice

29-01-2010 Interview

Nearly 100 days have passed since the abduction of two ICRC staff members: Gauthier Lefèvre was seized in West Darfur, Sudan, on 22 October, and Laurent Maurice in eastern Chad on 9 November. Daniel Duvillard, ICRC head of operations for East Africa, explains the situation.


  ©ICRC/T. Gassmann/ch-e-00594    
  Colleagues at ICRC headquarters in Geneva hold up messages of support for Gauthier and Laurent.    
  ©ICRC/I. Abdal Hafiez/sd-e-02418    
  Khartoum, Sudan. ICRC colleagues release 182 balloons carrying messages of support and hope for Gauthier's and Laurent's safe and prompt return.    
  ©ICRC/L. Mendez    
  In Chad, the bean planted for Laurent by his colleagues in Goz Beida subdelegation is growing fast.    
  The garlic planted by Laurent's colleagues in Abéché is also thriving.    
Daniel Duvillard, the ICRC's head of operations for East Africa 
   How are you dealing with the situation, almost 100 days after Gauthier and Laurent were abducted?  

This Saturday, 30 January, will mark 100 days of captivity for our colleague Gauthier. For Laurent the ordeal will also last 100 days unless he's freed before 17 February. We are continuing to do everything we can to bring about the safe and rapid release of our colleagues. We are in contact with the abductors and with the national and local authorities and are following developments closely.

Our hearts go out to our colleagues and their families. ICRC staff, not only in our Geneva headquarters but all over the world, have shown great support and deep concern throughout this crisis.

And let me insist: we will continue to do everything we can, for as long as is necessary, to bring about the safe and rapid release of Gauthier and Laurent.

 What is your message for Gauthier and Laurent today?  

Above all we want them to stay healthy and to take care of themselves. We hope above all that Gauthier and Laurent will be released safely very soon. We are acutely aware of the pain and distress experienced by their respective families. We want the families to know that we are doing everything we can to secure the swift release of their loved ones.

We remain extremely concerned about the safety and well-being of our colleagues. Only their release could allay our concerns.

 What has been the impact of scaling back ICRC activities in Sudan and Chad?  

The fact that we have been forced to curtail our field presence means that we are now providing fewer services for people in eastern Chad and in Darfur. 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.

Now as ever, security is a major concern, and our field presence is therefore under constant review. We are taking every possible precaution to ensure that our staff can continue to 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 is still involved in such activities as making clean drinking water available and helping people to support themselves through farming or herding.

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