Three Crew Members of UN Humanitarian Air Service Abducted in Darfur

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–13 January 2011 – Three Bulgarian crew members working for the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) were abducted in Darfur today, just over one month after three of their colleagues were freed after more than a month in captivity.

The incident happened at approximately 10:35 this morning as the crew landed their helicopter in Um Shalaya, located 60 kilometres south-east of El Geneina in West Darfur state, according to information provided by the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

Run by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the Humanitarian Air Service flies aid workers from the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as journalists and others, to some of the hardest-to-reach emergency operations around the world.

It plays a vital role in accessing remote locations and in cases where insecurity prevents travel by road.

Three Latvian men working for UNHAS – Captain Artjoms Nalbandjans, co-pilot Janis Gindra and mechanic Kaspars Reihlers – were freed from captivity in early December after being seized by gunmen in the South Darfur capital of Nyala on 4 November.