Five humanitarian aid workers were kidnapped in Saraf Umra, North Darfur last night, inciting immediate questions about potential political motivations, the BBC reports. Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, confirmed on its website that the three international staff members — a Canadian nurse, an Italian doctor, and a French coordinator — remain in the custody of the abductors. The two Sudanese staff members were released.
The French and Dutch sections of MSF were among the 13 aid groups expelled from Sudan following the ICC decision to issue an arrest warrant for President Bashir. However, the five aid workers were part of the MSF’s Belgian team.
This kidnapping is likely both political and economic in nature: designed by the government to have a further chilling effect on relief workers while potentially collecting a large ransom. With President Bashir flexing his muscle, and more and more civilians at risk of both violence and starvation, the international community needs a galvanized response — and soon.