Geneva: The International Committee of the Red Cross appealed Sunday for news of three staff members abducted in Syria in 2013 — a New Zealand nurse and two Syrian drivers.
Nurse Louisa Akavi was snatched along with drivers Alaa Rajab and Nabil Bakdounes while travelling in a Red Cross convoy delivering supplies to Idlib, in the northwest of the country.
Armed men stopped their convoy on October 13, 2013, and abducted seven people, four of whom were released the following day.
The ICRC said they believed they were abducted by Daesh.
“Our latest credible information indicates that Louisa was alive in late 2018,” the group said in a statement from Geneva.
“The ICRC has never been able to learn more details about Alaa and Nabil, and their fate is not known.”
“The past five and a half years have been an extremely difficult time for the families of our three abducted colleagues,” said the ICRC’s operations director, Dominik Stillhart.
“Louisa is a true and compassionate humanitarian. Alaa and Nabil were committed colleagues and an integral part of our aid deliveries.
“We call on anyone with information to please come forward. If our colleagues are still being held, we call for their immediate and unconditional release.”
Akavi had carried out 17 field missions with the ICRC and the New Zealand Red Cross, the statement said. Rajab and Bakdounes were “dedicated husbands and caring fathers”, it added.
The war in Syria, which began in 2011, has claimed more than 370,000 lives and forced millions of people to flee their homes.
The Kurdish-led SDF, backed by a US-led coalition, captured the last Daesh bastion in eastern Syria on March 23, and had detained thousands of suspected Daesh fighters.
But this could make it more difficult to find Akavi.
“We are speaking out today to publicly honour and acknowledge Louisa’s, Alaa’s, and Nabil’s hardship and suffering,” the ICRC statement said.
The organisation has 98 foreign workers and 580 Syrians working in the country.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights accuses Daesh of abducting thousands of people since 2014.