STAFF at the University of Limerick have said their thoughts are with one of their graduates, who has been kidnapped by gunmen in Yemen.
Nouran Hawas, 44, a native of Tunisia, who was in charge of an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) humanitarian protection programme in Sanaa, was kidnapped on her way to work, but her driver has since been released.
Reuters has reported that Rima Kamal, the ICRC’s Yemen spokeswoman, said the gunmen kidnapped Hawas and a Yemeni man when they intercepted their ICRC vehicle on Tuesday morning.
The man was released after several hours but Hawas is still being held.
“At this point we don’t know who is behind the abduction, what are the motives, but we are trying to appeal to those (responsible) to release our colleague,” Kamal told Reuters.
“This incidence comes on top of many security incidents we have had, and it is deplorable,” she said, adding that the identity of the kidnappers was not known.
In a statement posted online, the ICRC said that it had halted all field movements in Yemen for the time being.
“We do not know who is behind this abduction, but I appeal to those responsible to release our colleague as soon as possible,” said the ICRC head of delegation in Yemen, Antoine Grand.
“It is encouraging that one of our staff members has already been released. Now, I hope, the second one will be freed. We are in Yemen to provide humanitarian help to the people. Actions like this, against humanitarian workers, only make it more difficult for us to provide the assistance the people so desperately need.”
In September, two ICRC employees were shot dead in the northern province of Amran by an unknown attacker. The two were Yemeni nationals and were returning from an aid project in the far northern province of Saada.
A UL spokesperson said Ms Hawas had come to UL originally as an exchange student in the academic year 1997/1998 and then transferred and graduated with a BA in Languages and Cultural Studies in 1999.