Six Bulgarian crew members of a helicopter contracted by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) were handed over safely to WFP in South Sudan today, after being forced to land by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLM-N) in a remote area of Sudan’s South Kordofan state.
The SPLM-N took custody of the crew after the Mil Mi-8 helicopter went down in South Kordofan last Monday. The helicopter had made an emergency landing under fire as it was flying from Rumbek in South Sudan to Khartoum in Sudan, where it was due to undergo regular maintenance.
Photo courtesy WFP, by Giulio D'Adamo
WFP worked together with authorities both in Sudan and South Sudan to locate and recover the crew when contact was lost with the helicopter. A group known as the New Sudan Women’s League says that they engaged with the SPLM-N to arrange the return of the crew. WFP in particular thanked the Government of Sudan for its support in working for the safe return of the crew.
“It is regrettable that this incident took place. However we are greatly relieved that the WFP crew members are unhurt and back with us,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 75 countries.
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