GENEVA/WELLINGTON (Reuters) – The Worldwide Committee of the Pink Cross (ICRC) has appealed for data on the destiny of three staff kidnapped in Syria greater than 5 years in the past and final identified to have been held by Islamic State.
Pink Cross employee Louisa Akavi, a New Zealand nationwide, is seen on this undated handout photograph launched by the Worldwide Committee of the Pink Cross (ICRC) to Reuters on April 14 2019. ICRC/Handout through REUTERS
Breaking its silence on the case on Sunday, the impartial help company recognized the three as Louisa Akavi, a nurse from New Zealand, and Syrian drivers Alaa Rajab and Nabil Bakdounes.
“Our newest credible data signifies that Louisa was alive in late 2018,” it stated.
U.S.-backed forces proclaimed the seize of Islamic State’s final territory in Syria final month, eliminating its rule over a caliphate it had proclaimed in Iraq and Syria in 2014.
ICRC officers stated Akavi may need been swept up amongst some 70,000 girls and kids who fled to al-Hol camp after the autumn of Islamic State, a lot of them jihadist sympathizers.
ICRC President Peter Maurer raised her case throughout a go to to the camp, run by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in March, they added.
“We name on anybody with data to please come ahead. If our colleagues are nonetheless being held, we name for his or her instant and unconditional launch,” the ICRC stated in a press release offering a Syrian contact quantity: +963 953 555 745.
It stated it had not been in a position to be taught extra particulars concerning the two drivers, and their destiny was not identified.
The three had been touring in a Pink Cross convoy in October 2013, delivering provides to medical services in Idlib, northwestern Syria, when it was stopped by armed males. 4 different folks kidnapped with them had been launched the following day.
The Swiss-run company has a coverage of by no means paying ransoms.
Akavi, now 62, joined the ICRC in 1988 and has labored in a variety of hotspots.
She has been held longer than anybody in ICRC’s 156-year historical past, stated Dominik Stillhart, ICRC director of operations worldwide.
New Zealand’s authorities stated it was trying to find Akavi. International Minister Winston Peters stated the federal government had deployed a non-combat workforce based mostly in Iraq that included particular operations personnel, “centered on finding …and figuring out alternatives to recuperate her.”
After being moved by IS forces to Raqqa in 2017, Akavi was seen in Al-Bukamal in late 2018, near the Syrian-Iraqi border, the final concrete data on her whereabouts, Stillhart stated.
“What we really know is that Louisa has been working as a nurse throughout her abduction which reveals her dedication and dedication,” he stated.
Writing by Stephanie Nebehay; Modifying by Angus MacSwan and John Stonestreet