Darfur: CAFOD staff released by kidnappers

 Kidnappers have released three people working for CAFOD's Darfur emergency programme after a week of captivity. The men were returned safely home to their families last Thursday. The men, Salah Idris, Ahmed Abubaker Musa and Salim Mohammed Salim, who work for CAFOD partner the Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO) were taken at gunpoint after visiting the Zam Zam camp on Friday 30 September. It is believed that they were taken by militia forces. The car they were travelling in was also taken and has yet to be returned. On the day of their capture CAFOD joined with six other international agencies to send an appeal to all the parties involved in the Abuja peace talks to secure the immediate, safe and unconditional release of the three SUDO staff. The letter signed by senior representatives of Church World Service, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, Trocaire, Christian Aid, Norwegian Church Aid, Dan Church Aid and Lutheran World Relief called for all the warring parties in Darfur to abide by international humanitarian law not to target civilians and to end all harassment, arbitrary arrest or obstruction of agencies carrying out humanitarian work. Recent days have seen a worrying rise in violence against the people of Darfur with attacks on villages and camps leaving scores dead. The continuing conflict has made it impossible for the vast majority of the displaced - over two million people - to return to their homes. CAFOD Conflict Policy Analyst Amelia Bookstein said: "We are greatly relieved that the three SUDO staff are now safely back with their families. However we would take this opportunity to call upon the warring parties to guarantee the safely of all civilians and humanitarian workers around Darfur. The last few weeks have seen a sharp rise in harassment and violence against aid workers." The SUDO staff are part of an ACT/Caritas emergency response programme reaching around 500,000 people. CAFOD is a leading member of the programme which is funded by members of the Action by Churches Together, a global network of Protestant and Orthodox development agencies and Caritas Internationalis the family of Catholic aid agencies.

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