News / Africa

    Aid Worker Kidnapped in Darfur Returns Home

    The World Food Program's Patrick Noonan was freed after 86 days. The World Food Program's Patrick Noonan was freed after 86 days.
    x
    The World Food Program's Patrick Noonan was freed after 86 days.
    The World Food Program's Patrick Noonan was freed after 86 days.
    Kelly J. Kelly
    Aid Worker Kidnapped from Darfur Returns Homei
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X


    After almost three months in captivity, British aid worker Patrick Noonan is going home.

    “He’s very much looking forward to seeing his two daughters,” says Bettina Luescher, a World Food Program spokesperson. “We’re glad that this story is over.”

    Noonan was working for the World Food Program’s logistic team in the Sudan’s Darfur area when armed men seized him and his Sudanese driver last March. The attackers released the driver a few hours later, but they held Noonan for 86 days.

    Luescher says the World Food Program cannot say where Noonan was during that time, or how UN, Sudanese, and UK officials negotiated his release.

    “He’s apparently in good health, happy to be out, and we’re just glad that he’s free again,” says Luescher. “For an aid organization, those are always troubling times. We were very, very concerned about his well-being, we’re glad, we’re grateful to everyone who helped free him.”

    Abby Stoddard, a researcher with a group called Humanitarian Outcomes that advises governments and NGOs, explains that aid workers are protected by international law. However, host governments are ultimately responsible for keeping aid workers safe. That may be a reason why South Sudan has joined Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Sudan as some of the most dangerous places for aid workers

    “Similar to Sudan itself, it’s a country where the government has not been able to extend a security presence and law and order to a vast expanse of territory, and where both militants and regular criminals can act with impunity,” says Stoddard.

    When you get down to it, Stoddard says, aid organizations end up providing their own protection—but most try to avoid using armed guards and walled-off compounds.

    “Many rely instead on what’s been called the acceptance approach to security, which is about actively communicating and negotiating with all local actors and parties to the conflict and trying to gain their acceptance and support--and by extension a measure of protection.”

    When something does go wrong, as it did with Patrick Noonan, the World Food Program and other aid organizations say they do not pay ransom.

    “It’s one of the policies we have,” Luescher explains. “If we did that, then aid workers all over the world would be more in danger.”

    That danger can be seen in Somalia, for example. Recently militants there killed two World Food Program workers in two months and effectively kicked the World Food Program out of a country that desperately needed its help.

    Luescher says the danger aid workers face is one of the reasons they are real heroes.

    “Not only do they leave their families behind, but they also risk their lives. All to make sure that a little child or a young mother gets a little bit of food or a little bit of shelter and some safety.”

    That risk goes on every day for aid workers along the border between Sudan and South Sudan.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora