Irish team in Sudan to help free kidnapped aid staff
Irish diplomats and negotiators flew into Khartoum on Sunday to help in efforts to free two female aid workers kidnapped in Sudan's Darfur region, Reuters reported.
The two women from Irish aid group GOAL, one Ugandan and one Irish, were abducted from their compound in the north Darfur town of Kutum late on Friday -- the third time foreign humanitarian workers have been seized in Darfur in four months.
The Irish delegation, including the country's ambassador to Egypt Gerard Corr and officials from its Department of Foreign Affairs arrived in Khartoum airport early on Sunday morning.
"This is a very high level delegation that is here to negotiate and do everything that is possible to free the hostages," said Ireland's honorary consul in Khartoum Ronnie Shaoul as he waited at the airport.
"They will be meeting the Ugandan ambassador and officials from all the appropriate ministries. We have had a lot of support from officials here." He added that the team included trained negotiators.
GOAL has named the kidnapped women as Hilda Kawuki, 42, from Uganda, and Sharon Commins, 32, from Dublin.
The aid group's country representative in Sudan Flora Hillis told Reuters on Sunday she had still heard nothing from the kidnappers or her staff, two days on from the abduction.
Two groups of foreign aid workers kidnapped in Darfur in March and April were released unharmed.
The kidnappers of foreign staff from Medecins Sans Frontieres in March said they were protesting against the International Criminal Court's decision to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Aid groups in Darfur say they have faced increased hostility since the warrant was issued in March.
The recent surge of kidnappings has shocked humanitarian groups in the region where abductions of foreign workers were almost unheard of before this year.
U.N. agencies and aid groups are running the world's largest humanitarian operation on Darfur, helping 4.7 million caught up in more than six years of fighting.