MSF confirms abduction of three international staff in Serif Umra, Darfur, Sudan

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) today, Thursday 12 March 09, confirms reports that three of their international staff were abducted early this morning (Hong Kong time) in Serif Umra, the Sudanese province of North Darfur. Two MSF Sudanese staff were also taken at the same time. However, they have since been released.

The three international staff abducted are a Canadian nurse, an Italian doctor and a French coordinator, who were working for the Belgian section of MSF.

Their immediate relatives have been informed.

MSF is currently working to get more information about the circumstances and the motives of this abduction.

Our thoughts are with the colleagues and families of those abducted. MSF is deeply concerned about their safety and is doing everything it can to determine their whereabouts and ensure their safe and swift return.

At this stage MSF does not have any further information and is not in a position to make any further comments in order to try to safeguard the security of our colleagues.

The French and the Dutch sections of Medecins Sans Frontieres were recently expelled from Darfur. This expulsion did not relate to the other three remaining sections of MSF in Darfur, the Belgian, Swiss and Spanish

As a result of the abduction of its staff, all sections of MSF are withdrawing almost all international staff from projects in Darfur.

Only an essential skeleton team will remain to follow the case of the abducted MSF colleagues. A number of Sudanese staff will also be relocated for now.

This evacuation will mean an interruption to many of MSF's essential medical services in Darfur. MSF is extremely worried both for our abducted colleagues and for the populations that MSF teams had been providing medical aid to.