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British hostage freed in Sudan
A British hostage being held in Sudan has been released.
Patrick Noonan was kidnapped three months ago but has now been released into the care of the World Food Programme in Sudan.
Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham said: "It is with great pleasure that we can confirm the release of the British hostage Patrick Noonan, who was kidnapped in Sudan three months ago. I would like to thank the government of Sudan, and notably the governor of South Darfur for their commitment to securing Patrick's release. Patrick is now in the care of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Sudan."
Mr Bellingham added: "Patrick's family and friends must be delighted, having endured the ordeal of his captivity with great strength and dignity."
The WFP said Mr Noonan was released after 86 days in captivity and is looking forward to seeing his family. Executive director Ertharin Cousin said: "All WFP staff are celebrating the release of Patrick today. He went to Darfur with the aim of helping vulnerable people and his kidnapping was a great strain on his family, friends and colleagues. We are thankful for his safe release."
A spokesman said Mr Noonan was working in the city of Nyala. He had been in Sudan for about two years when he was abducted by armed men on the morning of March 6, along with a Sudanese driver who was released later on the same day.
Mr Noonan, a 48-year-old father of two from Northern Ireland, had been working as a logistician for the World Food Programme when he was snatched.
The WFP said it had been working with the United Nations' Department of Safety and Security, the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (Unamid), the government of Sudan and the British Embassy as well as relevant local authorities in Darfur to secure his release.
In a statement issued through WFP, Unamid's joint special representative Ibrahim Gambari, the UN designated official for security in Darfur, said: "The international community in Sudan and Governor Hamad Ismail Hamad worked closely together to secure the release of Mr Noonan, whose job was to bring desperately needed humanitarian aid to Darfur's most vulnerable people. I am aware of Governor Hamad's personal commitment and the efforts of South Darfur's security bodies that enabled the safe release of Mr Noonan. It is now crucial that the government of Sudan authorities pursue the hostage-takers and bring them to justice."
The WFP said the situation in Darfur remains volatile. It said 40 humanitarian workers have been abducted since 2009, including Mr Noonan and six air crew working with the UN Humanitarian Air Service which is managed by WFP.