British hostage Patrick Noonan freed in Sudan

Patrick Noonan was kidnapped by an armed gang while working for the World Food Programme in South Darfur

A British hostage who was kidnapped in Sudan three months ago has been freed, the Foreign Office has said.

Patrick Noonan had been working for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) for two years as a logistician in Darfur.

Mr Noonan, 48, from Northern Ireland, was abducted by armed men on 6 March 2012 along with a Sudanese driver.

A spokesman for the WFP said it was thankful for Mr Noonan's safe release and the aid worker was looking forward to seeing his family.

Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham said: "I would like to thank the government of Sudan, and notably the governor of South Darfur for their commitment to securing Patrick's release.

"Patrick is now in the care of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Sudan."

He added: "Patrick's family and friends must be delighted, having endured the ordeal of his captivity with great strength and dignity."

Abduction warning

The head of the African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Ibrahim Gambari, praised the efforts of the government in securing Mr Noonan's freedom.

He warned in the statement that the abduction of humanitarian workers was violation of international humanitarian law and the perpetrators must be found and prosecuted.

In a statement the WFP said: "The situation in Darfur remains volatile and insecurity is an issue that impedes the work of the humanitarian community serving the region."

It said 40 humanitarian workers have been abducted since 2009, including Mr Noonan and six air crew working with the UN Humanitarian Air Service, which is managed by WFP.

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