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

Obama Pledges 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace Christmas precisely because of its non-religious glamor and commercial appeal More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid