ICRC thanks PNRC for release of 3 hostages
MANILA, Philippines—The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed its gratitude to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) for the latter’s help in securing the release of three ICRC volunteers who were kidnapped by a terror group in Jolo, Sulu, earlier this year.
ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger, in a letter to PNRC chair Sen. Richard Gordon, said the local Red Cross was instrumental in the safe recovery of ICRC workers Mary-Jean Lacaba, Andreas Notter and Eugenio Vagni.
The three were seized by the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo in January after they inspected a water sanitation project at the local jail.
Lacaba, a Filipino, and Notter, a Swiss, were freed separately in April while Vagni, an Italian, was released early this month.
“I wish to warmly thank you for your impressive and incredible commitment, endless efforts and exemplary solidarity with the ICRC to try and solve this hostage crisis,” Kellenberger said in the letter.
“For six months now, you have been an invaluable support and partner of the ICRC, not only in the Philippines but also at the headquarters level,” he told the PNRC.
When the Abu Sayyaf threatened to behead one of the hostages after the military intensified its operations in Sulu, Kellenberger made a personal appeal on video for the lives of the ICRC workers.
Although the Abu Sayyaf has admitted being behind the kidnapping, the ICRC has refused to identify the hostage takers in line with its principle of neutrality.
Kellenberger also extended his appreciation to Gordon for his concern for the three ICRC workers.
“Your genuine interest and care for the three kidnapped colleagues and their relatives is another living proof of your deep humanitarian motivation and exemplary commitment to alleviate human suffering,” Kellenberger said.
Despite the abduction, the PNRC and ICRC, both neutral and impartial humanitarian organizations, said they remained committed to helping the victims of war in Mindanao.
PNRC officials said they had intensified their safe access training for their workers in the field to better prepare them for untoward incidents.
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