US hostage in Darfur says conditions desperate


An American woman abducted by armed men in western Sudan more than two months ago said that food and drinking water were scarce and her living conditions had become desperate.

The woman works for the US-based Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse, which has asked that her name be withheld, and is the last foreign captive held in Darfur. Two German men were freed earlier in the day after nearly five weeks in captivity.
“Now I’m camping out in a wadi (dried river bed) with about 20 men,” she told Reuters by satellite phone. “I’m no longer being fed, it’s raining here and there are a couple of tarps (tarpaulins) but we are sleeping in the rain with no clean water — I drink rain water when I can collect it.”

She said she was surviving by drinking camel’s milk. “The situation has become a living nightmare,” she said.

The hostage sounded calm but her voice cracked as she described missing her family and said she hoped her ordeal would soon be over, Reuters reports.

She said her captors had become more hostile to her in recent days, a tactic often used by kidnappers to put pressure on the government to pay ransoms. The woman’s kidnappers have demanded a ransom from the Sudanese government, but the amount has not been disclosed.

Two female hostages, one Irish and one Ugandan, who were held for more than three months in Darfur last year said they were subjected to terrifying mock executions in an attempt to intimidate them.

The woman’s kidnappers contacted Reuters in Khartoum, gave a satellite phone number and asked the correspondent to telephone her.

Sudan’s security and intelligence services have freed all the foreigners taken hostage since the kidnappings began in 2009, shortly after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur.

Aid workers have tightened security since the abductions began. Most expatriate staff have moved into towns and limited their movements.

A revolt broke out in Darfur in 2003 in protest against alleged neglect by the central government. Fighting between government troops and allied militias and the rebels has caused widespread disruption and heavy loss of life.