RIGA - Detailed information is not being released at this time by the United Nations (UN) regarding negotiations for the freeing of the Latvian hostages being held in Sudan, says UN Food Program press representative Greg Barrow, reports news agency LETA. Barrow explains that the UN will, for the time being, release no more information, other than that the three Latvian citizens have still not been freed and that negotiations for their release are underway, noting that more detailed statements could threaten the negotiation process and even present a risk to the hostages.
Barrow declined to give details on the kidnappers, their affiliation, objectives and demands, and also on the resources currently being employed by the UN in the negotiating process.
Three employees of the Latvian company GM Helicopters were kidnapped on Nov. 4 in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region. The three Latvian citizens had traveled to the country to carry out operations for the UN Food Program.
The approximate location of the three has been established, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Janis Silis on Nov. 7. Silis indicated that the ministry’s Consular Department is in constant contact with representatives of the UN’s World Food Program. Sudanese regional authorities have responded to official Latvian requests and have agreed to work more actively to resolve the matter.
The Latvian side does not yet know the motives or the kidnappers’ demands. Work is continuing with the responsible organizations to free the Latvian citizens.
World Food Program spokesman in Sudan Amor Almagro acknowledged that the three pilots were part of the helicopter crew. “I can only confirm that three crew members working for the UN humanitarian air service, contracted to the World Food Program, were abducted in Nyala town on Thursday,” Almagro told AFP.
Foreigners are regularly kidnapped in the region, with ransom being demanded for their release. A previous incident took place on Aug. 29, when two Russian pilots were kidnapped at gunpoint, while two Jordanian police consultants were abducted in the same manner two weeks earlier.
More than 20 foreigners have been kidnapped in the war-torn region since March 2009, with all the hostages being released unharmed a few days later.