Friday, May 1, 2009

Eugenio Vagni makes contact with family

MANILA, Philippines - Eugenio Vagni, the remaining International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) worker still in captivity, was confirmed still alive after making contact with his family Thursday night.

But the ICRC said Vagni’s ordeal continues more than 100 days after he, Andreas Notter and Mary Jean Lacaba were abducted in Sulu last Jan. 15.

“He was able to call his family today. This is the only news received from him since he was last seen on 16 April by his colleague Andreas Notter, who is now free and back with his family after three months of captivity. As ever, we remain very worried about Eugenio," ICRC head of operations for East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific Alain Aeschlimann said on the ICRC

Aeschlimann said they remain worried for Vagni as the ordeal goes on for him, his family and friends, and for the ICRC.

He said Vagni’s safety and well-being remain the ICRC’s main concern, and appealed anew to the Abu Sayyaf to release the Italian “safe and sound, immediately and unconditionally."

“Our thoughts are with Eugenio’s family and friends in particular, who have been enduring enormous hardship since the very beginning of the crisis. We are keenly aware of the distress they are feeling," he said.

Aeschlimann said the ICRC will “spare no effort" until Vagni is free and the crisis resolved.

“We are in regular contact with the authorities in the Philippines and in Rome, who are keeping close tabs on developments. All genuine efforts to find a solution to the crisis are appreciated," he said, but refused to give details to avoid jeopardizing any of these efforts.

He also stressed the ICRC since Day One of the crisis has never received any ransom demand.

“As a matter of policy, the ICRC does not pay ransoms when its staff are kidnapped. Making exceptions to such longstanding policy might endanger the ICRC’s security and its capacity to work in conflict zones and other sensitive areas in many countries, including the Philippines," he said. - GMANews.TV

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