“After 86 days in captivity in the South Darfur region of Sudan, British aid worker Patrick Noonan, who was working for the UN World Food Programme, has been released,” WFP said in a statement.
Noonan had been in Sudan for about two years and was working as a logistician in Nyala town when he was abducted by “armed men” on March 6, the statement said.
“We are thankful for his safe release,” WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin said in the statement. A Sudanese driver kidnapped with Noonan was released later the same day, it said.
“It is with great pleasure that we can confirm the release of the British hostage Patrick Noonan, who was kidnapped in Sudan three months ago,” said Africa minister Henry Bellingham of the British Foreign Office in London.
The head of the African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) in Darfur, Ibrahim Gambari, praised the efforts of the government in securing Noonan’s freedom. Separately, top negotiators for Sudan and South Sudan have held their first talks since deadly border fighting last month took them to the brink of war, even as Juba accused Khartoum of fresh air strikes.
Teams from both sides are in the Ethiopian capital for African Union-led talks which were stalled by heavy clashes last month, the worst fighting since the South won independence last July.
However, South Sudan offered a cautious welcome on Wednesday to foe Sudan’s pullout of troops from the contested border region of Abyei, a year after Khartoum’s army stormed the area forcing thousands to flee.