Free workers, ICRC president asks Abus as deadline nears

MANILA, Philippines – A March 31 deadline has prompted the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross to make a personal appeal to the Abu Sayyaf for the release of three ICRC workers being held in captivity in Sulu province since January 15.

Geneva-based ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger made the call following a meeting with Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on Friday.

“I am very concerned by the threats of the kidnappers. I am asking for their safe, unconditional and immediate release,” Kellenberger said in an article on the ICRC Web site.

In captivity are Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Swiss Andreas Notter, whom Kellenberger asked to be released “unharmed” and “immediately.” The Abu Sayyaf has given the government until March 31 to withdraw its troops from their present location or one of the victims would be beheaded.

On Friday, Kellenberger spoke with Ermita and asked him to ensure that the authorities do everything in their power to save the lives of the hostages.

He said this should be done while avoiding any action that could put the ICRC staff at risk.

“The ICRC’s priority is that Mary Jean, Eugenio and Andreas remain safe and that they be able to return to their families, who miss them desperately. Their children, parents, siblings, spouses, friends and colleagues will not give up hope of seeing them again soon,” he said.

In his appeal, Kellenberger questioned the bandits on what they hoped to achieve with hurting the three ICRC workers.

“The sole purpose of Mary Jean, Eugenio and Andreas’ work is to give help to those in need. It is impossible to understand what the kidnappers could possibly achieve by hurting them. Harming a humanitarian aid worker cannot be justified under any ideology or religious law,” he said.

Since the abduction, the ICRC and the Philippine National Red Cross have been working to resolve this ordeal.


Published in: on March 28, 2009 at 10:37 am  Comments Off on Free workers, ICRC president asks Abus as deadline nears  
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