A Zambian aid worker was released in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region on Friday after 19 days in captivity, peacekeepers said.
Felix Ngoma, who is on the staff of the International Organization for Migration, was the latest kidnap victim in a region where crime and violence have risen dramatically.
He appeared to be unharmed, in good health and will soon fly home to Zambia, the African Union-U.N. Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said in a statement.
He was abducted in the early evening of July 6 as he drove between UNAMID’s South Darfur regional base and the state capital Nyala, UNAMID said.
“The abductors forced him out of his vehicle at gunpoint,” it said.
Nyala, Sudan’s second-largest city, has been under a state of emergency this month because of insecurity.
UNAMID did not identify Ngoma’s kidnappers but said Sudanese authorities and the Zambian government gave “valuable assistance” in his release.
Three Sudanese employees of the Irish aid group GOAL and the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF were released last weekend after about a month in captivity following their abduction in North Darfur.
They were among 25 aid workers taken in Sudan this year, up from 10 last year and two in 2012, according to data quoted by the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Thursday.
Employees of UNAMID have also been captured and released this year.
Insurgents from non-Arab ethnic minority groups in Darfur rose up 11 years ago against what they said was the domination of Sudan’s power and wealth by Arab elites.
In response, the government turned to “Janjaweed” militia recruited from Arab tribes, who have since been incorporated into official paramilitary units.
Officials acknowledge “they are increasingly losing control over paramilitaries, who have been the main source of insecurity in Darfur for two years,” the International Crisis Group of analysts said in a January report.
Militias in search of resources have turned on each other, and sometimes against the government, while violent crime has increased.