Swiss Federal Council makes ‘humanitarian’ appeal to Abu Sayyaf

MANILA, Philippines – The Swiss Federal Council on Thursday (Manila time) made a “humanitarian” appeal to the Abu Sayyaf to release three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers the bandit group abducted last January 15.

In its appeal, the Federal Council said it is “deeply concerned” about their situation and the threats that have been made to their lives.

“We appeal to your sense of humanity. Please spare the lives of the hostages,” it said on its website.

The Swiss Federal Council is the seven-member executive council which constitutes the federal government of Switzerland and serves as the Swiss collective head of state.

Abu Sayyaf members are still holding hostage Swiss Andreas Notter, 38; Italian Eugenio Vagni, 62; and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba, 37.

According to the Swiss Federal Council, the three ICRC workers aimed to help the local people in purely humanitarian ways.

“We implore the kidnappers to show compassion and to release Mary Jean, Andreas and Eugenio without further delay and in good health. The three hostages have dedicated their lives to the cause of peace and to helping the most disadvantaged people in the world,” it said.

It added Switzerland will not cease in its efforts and to work in close cooperation with the ICRC, the governments of the Philippines and Italy “to find a peaceful outcome to this hostage taking.”

Meanwhile, the state of emergency caused by a hostage crisis in Sulu has prompted a travel warning from Canada, which advised its nationals to “avoid all travel” to several parts of Mindanao.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada particularly advised against all travel the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Zamboanga Peninsula.

“On March 31, 2009, a state of emergency was imposed on the island of Jolo due to the kidnapping of three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In the recent past there have been several bombings in a number of locations, including (but not limited to) Cotabato, Kidapawan, Zamboanga City, General Santos City, Iligan City and Davao City causing several deaths and numerous injuries,” it said in its advisory dated April 1 (Thursday in Manila).

It said its travel warning on ARMM includes Basilan, Sulu, Tawi Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sharif Kabunsuan.

On the other hand, the warning on Zamboanga Peninsula includes Zamboanga del Sur, Saragani, Lanao del Norte, Davao del Sur [excluding urban areas of Davao City], South Cotabato, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan on Tuesday placed the province under a state of emergency in the wake of the Abu Sayyaf’s threat to behead one of three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers it abducted last January 15.

The Canadian government reminded its nationals of its registration service for all Canadians traveling or living abroad.

Such a service is provided so that the government can contact and assist them in an emergency abroad, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, or inform you of a family emergency at home.

Meanwhile, Canada reiterated the threat of terrorist activities exists, particularly in Mindanao.

It said bombs have exploded in shopping malls, on public transportation, at airports and port facilities, in places of worship, and in other public areas.

“Further explosions are possible anywhere in the country,” it said.

It also said Canadians should be alert to the danger of kidnapping in the Philippines.

“Although government action has reduced the frequency of kidnappings, there remain reports of planned kidnap-for-ransom of business people. Kidnappings have occurred throughout the country, including in Manila and several resort areas, and deaths have resulted in some cases.
Canadians should be cautious when traveling to, and around, coastal areas and island resorts,” it said.

Crime continues to be a serious concern, especially in Manila, the Canadian government said.

“Avoid displays of affluence such as jewellery. Do not carry large sums of money, and keep valuables in safekeeping facilities,” it said.


Published in: on April 2, 2009 at 11:00 am  Comments Off on Swiss Federal Council makes ‘humanitarian’ appeal to Abu Sayyaf  
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