Latin American Herald Tribune (LAHT)
Sunday, October 14, 2012
MADRID – One year after the kidnapping of Spanish aid workers Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut in Kenya, the Spanish Foreign Minister and Doctors without Borders pursue with extreme caution the procedures to free them from captivity.
Blanca and Montserrat were kidnapped on Oct. 13 last year from the refugee camp of Ifo, in Dadaab, Kenya, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Somali border, when their vehicle was stopped with gunshots at by an armed group.
Both have been held against their will since then in Somalia, according to Doctors without Borders, which repeats its “indignation and sorrow” in a communique published on its Web site, where it again demands the immediate release of its two aid workers.
The Spanish secretary of state for foreign affairs, Gonzalo de Benito, said this week that every effort is being made to set the captives free, but insisted on the need to maintain the caution of the past year.
The same caution was requested once more by the families of Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra through Doctors without Borders of the media and of local, national and international organizations.
The families expressed their worry and sorrow at the kidnapping and said they would do everything possible to achieve the victims’ release, while at the same time were grateful for the discretion with which the case has been handled over the past year.
Little has been reported in the news about the two aid workers and no organization has publicly investigated the case, though the prime suspects seem to be the radical Islamist group Al Shabab, which operates in the area and has ties to the terrorist organization Al Qaeda.
Last Feb. 15, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said in Algeria that the government of Spain had received “a proof of life” from the aid workers.
In the past 16 years, more than 50 Spanish aid workers have been kidnapped while taking part in humanitarian work, including the two workers of Doctors without Borders.
Three members of that same organization were abducted previously, one in Colombia in 1998 and two in Somalia’s Puntland region in 2007 and 2008.