MSF statement on abduction

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) confirms the abduction of two of their colleagues in Liberia yesterday morning August 11, 1999 when nurse Irene Martino and logistician Trond Heldaas were taken hostage by armed people and conducted to an unknown place. Irene Martino is Italian, 34, and had previously worked in South Sudan.

Trond Heldaas is Norwegian, 53, and had been working as a logistician in Somalia. In Liberia, they had been working in a project for Sierra-Leonese refugees providing health care and water and sanitation. "We have been in contact with our two colleagues yesterday through radio communication. They said they were both OK. No further information about their location had been given", a spokesperson of MSF said today.

"Our volunteers are aware of this kind of risks", Peter Thesin said. "We take all necessary precautions to avoid such hazardous situations, but even with our high security rules, those things can happen". MSF has started negociations together with Merlin and IRC to ensure security for the volunteers, but at this moment no further information can be given.