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Ugandan hostage released without ransom

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by ByaseL, Oct 21, 2009.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Oct 21, 2009
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    [​IMG] Hilda Kawuki holds her son Amamu yesterday upon her arrival from captivity in Darfur, Sudan

    By Henry Mukasa

    NO ransom was paid for the release of the Ugandan aid worker and her Irish colleague, said Betty Akech, Uganda’s ambassador to Sudan, yesterday.

    She said protracted negotiations with the Darfur kidnappers by the governments of Uganda, Sudan and Ireland had led to the release of Kampala-born Hilda Kawuki and her colleague, Sharon Commins, both working for the Irish aid agency, Goal.

    “Because of the concerted efforts of the three governments, the two victims were released through negotiations. No ransom was paid and no force was used,” Akech said.

    She added that the clan leaders in Darfur played an important role by putting pressure on the militants through social isolation.

    “They knew who was involved, identified them and excluded them from social activities.”

    Akech, who accompanied Kawuki on the flight home yesterday morning, praised the two women for their resilience and commitment.

    “I want to pay tribute to Hilda for her bravery. When she came out, she was in high spirits and is willing to go back. That is the pride we have in her.”

    A bouquet of flowers from her four-year-old son yesterday ended Kawuki’s three-month ordeal which began in early July when she and her colleague were kidnapped by armed militants in Darfur.

    Her son, Amanu, her mother, Anne Kawuki, the Irish ambassador, Kevin Kelly, and the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Guma Magunda, received the aid worker at the VIP lounge at Entebbe International Airport.

    “It is very nice to be with my family, especially after a long time, 107 days in captivity, going through different situations, living outdoors,” Hilda Kawuki sighed.

    In a brief narration, Kawuki, who looked tired, said after their abduction, they were taken towards the Sudan-Chad border where they were moved to different mountain tops.

    “This is not something you know how it will go. We had no idea of when we would be released,” she recounted.

    An orange shawl draped over her shoulders, Kawuki expressed no emotions until at the end of the briefing when she held her son and whispered in his ears.

    She saluted the governments of Uganda, Sudan and Ireland, the military in Sudan, the humanitarian world and the general public for the negotiations, prayers and support.

    “It is only when we got out that we realised many people in the world had been praying and working for our release. Everybody played a role. On behalf of Sharon and myself, I cannot thank you enough.”

    She said her friends sent her books to read in captivity but they never got to her.

    Kawuki’s mother said she had never given up hope of seeing her daughter back alive. “It is exciting to get her back alive. I am a believer. I prayed to God and knew she would one day return.”
    The Irish ambassador said Kawuki’s return to Kampala and Commins’ arrival in Dublin a day earlier were happy days for everyone.

    He said newspaper articles and demonstrations in Dublin referred to the two as “our girls.”

    His government worked closely with Khartoum and Kampala to ensure their release, he added.

    “We are happy the negotiations paid off. We wish you a happy reunion with your family. Congratulations,” Kelly told Kawuki.