KIEV, August 28 (RIA Novosti) — Two Ukrainian nationals who were part of the crew on board a Russian-made helicopter seized by Sudanese rebels earlier this month have been released, a Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Wednesday.
Two Ukrainians and one Sudanese national were aboard the UN-contracted Mi-8 helicopter when it was seized by the Sudanese Liberation Movement on August 3 after making an emergency landing southwest of Nyala, the capital of the Republic of Sudan’s South Darfur state.
“According to information from the Ukrainian Embassy in Egypt, the Foreign Ministry of Sudan confirmed that crew members of the Mi-8 helicopter, including two citizens of Ukraine… were released yesterday evening,” the spokesman said.
He added that the newly-released Ukrainians are “well” and are currently in Nyala under the protection of Sudanese security forces.
Sudan’s volatile Darfur region has seen a decade-long conflict involving the Sudan Liberation Movement, the Justice and Equality Movement, and other rebel groups that accuse Sudan’s government in Khartoum of oppression and of favoring Arab communities over black Africans. This conflict has been running since 2003 despite efforts by the African Union and United Nations to bring all rebel groups to the negotiating table.
In May, the BBC reported that conflict in Darfur displaced 300,000 people in the first five months of 2013 alone.