Photo: Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra (MSF)
Two Spanish citizens kidnapped in October 2011 while working with Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) at a Somali refugee camp in Kenya have been released, sources familiar with the situation told Efe Thursday.
MSF also said in a statement issued in Nairobi that Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra were freed in Somalia, adding that “both are safe and healthy and keen to join their loved ones as soon as possible.”
The organization once again condemned the abduction of the Spaniards and noted they had been “offering lifesaving medical assistance to thousands of refugees.”
The aid workers are traveling on a special flight to Spain and will arrive in the Iberian nation by early Friday, the sources told Efe.
Thiebaut and Serra were part of the MSF logistics team at the camp in the eastern Kenyan town of Dadaab, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Somali border.
They were taken at gunpoint on Oct. 13, 2011, while traveling outside the camp, and subsequently taken into Somalia.
Kenyan authorities initially blamed the radical Somali-based Al Shabaab militant Islamist group for the kidnapping, although that Al Qaeda-linked organization denied responsibility.
Dadaab is thought to be the largest refugee camp in the world, housing nearly 445,000 people who have fled conflict and famine in Somalia, U.N. officials say.
Somalia has been gripped by armed conflict and chaos since 1991, when military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the country was left without an effective central government and in the hands of radical Islamic militants, warlords and armed criminal gangs.