Displaying items by tag: aid workers
Ten people in Berdyansk, Ukraine, have been taken captive by Russian militia groups. They were kidnapped while helping evacuate residents from the southern port city, which Russia occupies. The captives include several Orphan's Promise (OP) volunteers, a driver, and an elderly couple who are the parents of a pastor who works with OP. Their whereabouts are unknown. These militia groups are known for their cruelty, especially to volunteers helping Ukrainians. Terry Meeuwsen, the founder of OP said, ‘We have no idea where this team is. We don't know if they're alive. We don't know if they're being cared for. We just have no idea. Being treated well has not been the traditional response by the Russians.’
A Kentish dog trainer, a Cornish farmer, and a Sussex executive are helping the elderly and frail to evacuate from dangerous areas in Ukraine. They fund themselves. ‘I know my parents worry’, said the dog trainer, ‘but they are proud of what I do.’ She has done a trauma first aid course, and is learning on the job. They travel to communities in the path of Russian forces. Shelling is a constant threat. Pray for God’s protection and strength to all who are helping the helpless in Ukraine. In April Russians captured Aiden and Shaun, Britons serving with Ukraine’s military. Russia’s foreign ministry said, ‘Don't worry, Russia is taking care of them’. Then on 9 June a court (not internationally recognised) in an area held by pro-Russian separatists sentenced them to death on the charge of being mercenaries. The men insist they have been in Ukraine since 2018, serving with Ukraine's military and entitled to prisoner-of-war protection. A Moroccan national was also condemned.
Syrian refugee and aid worker Yusra Mardini went on trial on 18 November with over two dozen other aid workers from various countries, for helping migrants reach Greece between 2016 and 2018. The defendants face charges including forgery, espionage, and the unlawful use of radio frequencies. Human rights groups have condemned the trial as being politically motivated; Amnesty International called the charges ‘farcical’ and said they should never have come to trial. If found guilty, the aid workers could face five-year prison sentences. Some remain under investigation for a number of other felonies, including human smuggling, which could lead to further sentences of up to 25 years. Irishman Sean Binder said, ‘I am happy to defend myself; I know I did nothing wrong, and we can prove that. I am charged with crimes that I am supposed to have committed a year before I was ever on Lesbos.’ STOP PRESS: the trial has been suspended, but will now be heard by an appeal court.
Hauwa Liman, a midwife with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was killed days after her kidnappers set a deadline. Ms Liman was taken with two others in the northern town of Rann last March. Fellow-midwife Saifura Ahmed Khorsa was killed last month. Ms Loksha remains a hostage. A 15-year-old schoolgirl is also still being held by the same group, which is affiliated to a faction of Boko Haram. Most of the other 110 students who were kidnapped have now been freed but the girl, who reportedly refused to convert to Islam, remains in captivity. The ICRC's regional director said there was no justification for the execution of innocent young healthcare workers, and feared for its implication on their work in the region. The information and culture minister said that the government would ‘keep the negotiations open’ and continue to work to free Ms Loksha and the schoolgirl. Pray for this work.