Three Latvian air crew freed in Darfur after 36 days captivity

Three Latvian air crew freed in Darfur after 36 days captivity

10-Dec-2010 Source: UN World Food Programme

KHARTOUM – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed the news that three Latvian men working as helicopter aircrew for the WFP United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, have been freed after more than a month in captivity.

WFP said that the three Latvians, a pilot, co-pilot and mechanic seized by gunmen in the South Darfur capital of Nyala on 4 November, would be flown to Khartoum before travelling home to Latvia.

“We are so grateful that these three men have been freed and our thoughts are with their families in Latvia who will be reunited with them in the coming days,” said WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran. “Now we can all celebrate their freedom.”

“WFP has worked tirelessly with the government of Sudan and the government of Latvia to bring about their release,” Sheeran said, adding that they were abducted while carrying out vital humanitarian work for the United Nations in Sudan.

The three men, Captain Artjoms Nalbandjans, co-pilot Janis Gindra and mechanic Kaspars Reihlers were part of a helicopter crew operated by the UNHAS in the Darfur region of Sudan. WFP manages UNHAS in Sudan.

Throughout their detention, WFP was assured that they were safe and well. WFP worked closely with the Government of Sudan at all levels for the safe release of the three men.

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