13 :16 EDT, 14 March 2009: Four Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff, kidnapped on March 11 from Serif Umra, North Darfur, Sudan, were safely released today, March 14, 2009. Canadian nurse Laura Archer, Italian doctor Mauro D'Ascanio, French Coordinator Raphaël Meunier and Sudanese watchman Sharif Mohamadin were all released after three days in captivity. They are now with MSF staff. They appear to be okay and are on their way to Khartoum. “We are incredibly relieved that our colleagues are safe and in good health.” said Christopher Stokes, General Director of the Belgian section of MSF. “Their families have been informed and are overjoyed. Our thoughts are with each of our colleagues and their families as they look forward to being reunited. We are delighted this incident is resolved.” Originally, five MSF staff members - three international and two Sudanese - were kidnapped on March 11 from Serif Umra. Later that same night one of the Sudanese staff members was released. Today, all kidnapped staff members are free. “We also want to express our outrage at the abduction of our colleagues,” Christopher Stokes added. “It is a gross violation of everything that we stand for. Kidnapping of humanitarian workers jeopardizes humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable. Our independent medical work must be respected if we are to continue working in conflict areas to save the lives of those who suffer most.” As a result of the abduction, MSF evacuated almost all international staff from its Darfur projects. A number of Sudanese staff were also relocated to safety. A skeleton MSF team remained to secure the release of the kidnapped staff. “This kidnapping represents a significant escalation in the insecurity faced by aid workers in Darfur. As a result of this kidnapping, MSF was forced to drastically reduce all medical projects across Darfur. We are incredibly saddened by this, particularly as in many areas we were the only healthcare provider. The needs of the population in Darfur are immense and they are the people who continue to suffer,” said Stokes. In light of the deteriorated security situation, it is not clear at what level it will be possible for MSF to continue with its medical projects in Darfur. At this stage, MSF requests, with respect, that Laura, Mauro, Raphaël and Sharif be given time and privacy to rest and be reunited with their families.

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