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Liberia: kidnapped nurses returned to UN 'visibly shaken' but safe

Liberia: kidnapped nurses returned to UN 'visibly shaken' but safe

Following weeks of negotiations aimed at freeing five nurses abducted by a rebel group in Liberia, the captives have been returned - shaken but safe - to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a spokesman for the agency reported today.

UNHCR officials involved in the release said the five nurses were visibly traumatized by their 10-week ordeal and three were suffering from malaria,” Ron Redmond told the press in Geneva. After being held since 20 June, they were handed over to agency staff by two representatives of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) late Monday at the Liberia-Guinea border “and are now safe in the southern Guinea town of Nzerekore.”

According to the spokesman, the nurses were taken to Macenta for a police check and then to Nzerekore where they received medical care before spending the night in a hotel, where they were able to call their families.

High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers welcomed the release and voiced gratitude to the local Guinean authorities for their assistance in providing security during the process.

At the time of their abduction, the nurses were working for a local non-governmental organization (NGO) called Medical Emergency Relief Cooperative International (MERCI), providing care to refugees and displaced at a UNHCR-sponsored clinic.