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ICRC worker abducted in Chad

Armed men have kidnapped a French national working for the Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in eastern Chad.

Laurent Maurice, an agronomist evaluating the recent harvest in the area, was abducted from the village of Kawa, near the border with Sudan. It was the second kidnapping of ICRC staff in the region in the past month.

The Geneva-based humanitarian body on Tuesday said it had no indication of who the abductors might be or of their motives. It is in contact with authorities and other parties with the aim of resolving the situation as swiftly as possible.

Maurice was spending the night at Kawa, where the ICRC is supporting a primary healthcare centre, with five of his Chadian colleagues.

The ICRC's activities in eastern Chad have been suspended temporarily. The United Nations estimates some 250,000 Sudanese have been living as refugees in 12 camps in the region since 2003, as well as 160,000 internally displaced Chadians since 2006.

The kidnapping follows a similar incident on the other side of the border on October 22. On that day, ICRC aid worker Gauthier Lefevre was abducted north of the west Darfur town of el-Geneina, near the border with Chad, by unknown armed men and is still missing. The ICRC has received a ransom request.

Armed banditry is the greatest security threat for aid workers in eastern Chad. In March the British-based humanitarian group Oxfam said there were 25 attacks each month against non-governmental organizations in eastern Chad despite the presence of UN peacekeepers.

Darfur has also seen a wave of kidnappings this year, mostly from young armed men demanding ransom money.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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