UN envoy demands release of former Colombian governor taken hostage

UN envoy demands release of former Colombian governor taken hostage

The United Nations envoy in Colombia has demanded the immediate release of the former state governor who had been abducted from a UN vehicle earlier this week by rebel forces.

Calling the attack a "breach" of international humanitarian law, Jan Egeland, the Special Adviser on Colombia to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said the abduction of Alan Jara, the former Governor of the Department of Meta, also contravened the "inviolability" of the UN vehicle. "These abuses jeopardize the impartial social and humanitarian mission of the United Nations," he said.

Mr. Egeland released his statement Thursday evening in Bogotá in response to one issued earlier in the day by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Mr. Jara was taken at gunpoint from a clearly identified UN vehicle in which he and other guests invited by the UN were riding together as officials involved in an important local development project, Mr. Egeland said.

"The FARC should immediately release Mr. Jara, take urgent measures to protect civilians, and to ensure that the UN and diplomatic missions can carry out their work unhindered," Mr. Egeland stressed.

The Special Adviser also expressed his desire to reach a speedy resolution to the incident, saying that he remained committed to continuing discussions with the FARC Secretariat to resolve the matter.

On a related issue, Mr. Egeland deplored the recent kidnapping of three German aid workers and attacks against personnel working on European Union development projects in the Magdalena Medio region. "Those kidnapped should be release immediately and guarantees should be extended to humanitarian aid development workers so that they may continue providing vital assistance to Colombia," he said.