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New Zealand nurse kidnapped by ISIS in 2013 may still be alive, ICRC says

Louisa Akavi, 62, and Syrian ICRC drivers Alaa Rajab and Nabil Bakdounes, have been kidnapped whereas delivering medical provides to Idlib, in northern Syria, in October 2013. 4 different members of the convoy who have been kidnapped by ISIS have been launched.

The help group had stored Akavi’s title secret in a bid to maintain her alive, working behind the scenes to attempt to safe her launch.

The ICRC stated its final “credible data” concerning Akavi’s well-being got here in late 2018, but it surely had by no means been capable of verify the fates of Rajab or Bakdounes.

Dominik Stillhart, director of operations for the Worldwide Committee of the Purple Cross, stated that the group believed that she continued to offer medical care, even whereas in captivity.

“There’s clearly a lot we do not learn about Louisa’s day-to-day life in recent times. We all know that she is a nurse who has been held by (ISIS),” a press release reads.

“We all know that she has supplied medical care to folks locally the place she was held. At the same time as a captive, she remained constant together with her humanitarian roots as a nurse in a battle zone serving to folks in want.”

The fall of the group’s so-called caliphate in late March supplied an impetus to make the search public, the assertion stated.

“Following the autumn of the final territory held by Islamic State group, we worry there’s an additional danger of dropping monitor of Louisa, although we stay hopeful this era will as an alternative open new alternatives for us to be taught extra about her whereabouts and well-being,” Stillhart stated.

“We name on anybody with data to please come ahead. If our colleagues are nonetheless being held, we name for his or her quick and unconditional launch.”

In a brief video assertion, household spokesman Tuaine Robati stated they remained involved for her but additionally spoke of their delight in her work.

“Our household misses her very a lot and is anxious for her security. Louisa is an extremely skilled nurse and support employee who knew the dangers of her job. Our household may be very happy with her.”

He stated the household had been in frequent contact with the ICRC, the New Zealand Purple Cross and the New Zealand authorities.

‘Expert, compassionate and resilient’

The 62-year-old humanitarian has labored with the group since 1987, in line with a put up on the New Zealand Purple Cross website, and is the recipient of the Florence Nightingale Medal, described by the ICRC as its “highest honor, awarded to nurses that reveal distinctive braveness and devotion to victims of armed battle or pure catastrophe.”

Her mission to Syria was her 17th subject mission with the group, New Zealand Purple Cross Secretary Normal Niamh Lawless stated at a press convention on Monday.

Along with Syria she had been deployed to international locations together with Somalia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Akavi has “devoted her life to these affected by struggle and violence, and he or she went to Syria as a result of folks wanted her,” according to Lawless, who described her colleague as “extremely expert, compassionate and resilient.”

She is a “buddy, a colleague and a mentor” who wished to “use her abilities to make a distinction for a number of the world’s most susceptible folks,” she added.

She has now been held captive longer than anybody within the 156-year historical past of the ICRC, Stillhart stated.

Particular forces deployed in search

On Monday, New Zealand International Affairs Minister Winston Peters stated his authorities had labored since 2013 to find and repatriate Akavi.

“There was continued dedication each step of the way in which over these years to make sure every little thing potential was being carried out with out jeopardizing Louisa’s security,” he stated. “That has been, and stays, paramount in progressing efforts to seek out her.”

He stated that a part of the efforts had concerned a “small multi-agency workforce,” which included members of the New Zealand Protection Drive’s Particular Operations Drive.

“Personnel have visited Syria occasionally as required. This noncombat workforce was particularly centered on finding Louisa and figuring out alternatives to get better her,” he stated.

“We have now now reached some extent the place all of the territory as soon as held by ISIS has been liberated. Sadly the present whereabouts of Louisa is unknown. Nonetheless, the New Zealand authorities continues to work tirelessly to find her and convey her to security.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern instructed journalists at a post-cabinet press convention that she wouldn’t make any remark regardless of the ICRC publicly naming Akavi for the primary time since she was taken hostage in 2013, reiterating in a short remark the federal government’s place that she mustn’t have been named.

“It completely stays the federal government’s view that it could be preferable if this case was not within the public area. For that purpose I can’t be commenting additional on it,” Ardern stated.

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