ICRC hopes Sulu team is unharmed and freed "as quickly as possible"

In a press statement posted on its website (http://www.icrc.org/eng), Alain Aeschlimann, head of the ICRC’s operations for Asia Pacific in Geneva, said "our main concern is to ensure that they continue to be unharmed and that they are let go, without any conditions, as quickly as possible.”

Aeschlimann said the ICRC is also “very concerned about the effect that rumours, conveyed by media, may have on the families of our kidnapped colleagues.”

"We will not comment on public speculation about who is holding them, where or why. We are being guarded in our statements because we do not want anything to jeopardize our colleagues' safety or well-being. We hope that everyone will respect this,” Aeschlimann said.

Filipino national Mary Jean Lacaba, an engineer and  Eugenio Vagni, an Italian – both water and habitat specialists at the ICRC; and Swiss national Andreas Notter, head of the ICRC office in Zamboanga, were abducted Thursday, January 15, at around 11:30 a.m., a few meters from the provincial jail.

The ICRC has had regular contact with its kidnapped colleagues from Friday to Monday, but not with the kidnappers, Aeschlimann said.

"We continue to hope that our colleagues will soon be able to hold their families and friends in their arms and they can return to their activities in favour of people in need in the Philippines," he said.

Jean-Daniel Tauxe, ICRC’s head of delegation in Manila, said they were “first contacted by them on Friday. This was followed by other calls from the three over the past few days.”

Tauxe said the three claimed to be in good health. “From what we understand, they are being held together. It’s always good to hear their voices and, of course, we remain concerned for their safety and hope they will be back with their loved ones soon.”

Lacaba, Vagni and Notter went to Sulu on January 13 and were returning to Zamboanga on January 15, after visiting the provincial jail, when abducted. (MindaNews)