Two aid relief workers employed by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency who were abducted along with an unidentified person in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been released by their anonymous captors.
The three were returning from the Mulongwe refugee camp in eastern DRC’s South Kivu province when they were abducted and held against their will. The group’s driver was the fourth person abducted but was released soon after.
All three were released on Monday, November 3, a statement by the agency said.
ADRA said it worked closely with local authorities to communicate with the abductors and remained in touch with family members. After four days, all three remaining hostages were released unharmed and transferred to the hospital for a health evaluation.
“We are extremely relieved to have secured the safe return of our workers,” says Michael Kruger, ADRA’s president.
“We are very grateful to God for his safeguard over them, and to the local authorities, and our ADRA team who assisted in this risky mission. While this is good news, attacks on humanitarian workers remain high, a situation that is not only affecting our staff, but also the communities we serve. We will continue to review and tighten our security measures to ensure the protection and safety of all our relief workers so that we can continue to serve and assist so many vulnerable families.”
This is the second reported attack on ADRA workers in the DRC since 2009, which at the time resulted in the killing of an ADRA employee.
In 2019, attacks against aid workers globally surpassed all previous records: a total of 483 relief workers were attacked and 124 kidnapped, according to Humanitarian Outcomes’ Aid Worker Security Database.
ADRA, as part of the global humanitarian and faith-based community, condemns these attacks and calls for accountability for perpetrators and justice for survivors.
ADRA has been active in the DRC since the mid-1990s providing support for returning refugees through the distribution of shelters, non-food items, the advocacy of land tenure rights, and served as a key player in minimizing the spread of the Ebola outbreak equipping out-of-reach communities through hygiene and sanitation awareness. ADRA in DRC also established partnerships with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to build health clinics and schools.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is the international humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church serving in 118 countries.