Monday, October 19, 2009

GOAL aid workers released from captivity

Aid workers for the Irish agency GOAL has been released from three months of captivity in Darfur. Bandits had taken the aid workers and demanded their ransom. Irish and Ugandan officials were able to free the aid workers without paying money.

From Forbes Magazine, we hear of the experiences of captivity from Sharon Cummins of Ireland.

Sharon Commins and colleague Hilda Kuwuki, who both worked for Irish aid agency GOAL, were abducted July 3 and freed without harm Sunday. Commins said they both might have died from broken spirits if not for the moral support they gave each other.

"You could die in there of sadness. You could just die if you didn't lift your spirits," Commins told Irish broadcasters RTE before her departure from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, aboard Ireland's government jet. "We definitely needed each other. We prayed together and tried to keep each other strong."

Sudanese and Irish authorities say the bandits demanded a ransom but received no money. Commins and Kuwuki were held the longest of three groups of foreign aid workers kidnapped in Sudan's war-torn western border since March. All were eventually freed.

Commins, 33, said she and the 42-year-old Kuwuki were held in the open in mountainous terrain, received two meals a day but little water, were allowed to bathe about every two weeks, and had to sleep on the ground with one blanket each. They were permitted to phone their families once as part of the kidnappers' efforts to extract a reported $1 million ransom.

She said their captors, who numbered from a dozen to about 18 gunmen, amused themselves by pretending to shoot the pair.

"There were mock assassinations on a few occasions, so it was extremely scary. We were always anxious and stressed and upset until the minute we got out," Commins said.

No comments: