Special forces in search for NZ nurse held hostage by IS

15 Avril, 2019, 16:11 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • New Zealand nurse Louisa Akavi

A New Zealand nurse kidnapped by the Islamic State in Syria is still missing weeks after the terror cell's stronghold in the region crumbled.

The ICRC said it believed they were abducted by ISIS.

They were in a Red Cross convoy delivering supplies to medical facilities in Idlib, northwest Syria, when armed men stopped the vehicles and abducted seven people.

"We remind everyone that she is a victim of a kidnapping, and a hostage who has been held for many years".

The Government is continuing to work on the basis that Akavi is still alive, but disagreed with the decision to name Akavi publicly. It's been revealed Louisa Akavi, who was taken by Isis had her identity hidden in fear she would be killed by her captors. Dominik Stillhart, director of operations for the ICRC, said the organisation had made a decision to go public with Akavi's case in the hopes that it would lead to information on her whereabouts after the fall of Baghouz. There were also reported sightings in 2016 and 2017, Red Cross officials said.

On Monday, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said his government had worked since 2013 to locate and repatriate Akavi.

"This has involved members of the NZDF, drawn from the Special Operations Force, and personnel have visited Syria from time to time as required". Her nursing skills reportedly saved her from a brutal execution.

"This non-combat team was specifically focused on locating Louisa and identifying opportunities to recover her", Peters said in an emailed statement.

Ms Akavi's ordeal has been kept secret for years, including by 1 NEWS, because of concerns for her safety.

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"We think about her every day and hope she feels that and finds strength in that", said a video statement issued by family spokesman Tuaine Robati. But no-one can know what she experienced, and what her mental state is now. "It remains the government's view that it would be preferable if the case was not in the public domain".

Ms Akavi has been seconded to the worldwide Red Cross, and numerous questions regarding operational matters should be directed to them at a press conference due to be held at 5pm, Mr Dyer and Ms Lawless both said.

"We remain hopeful this period will instead open new opportunities for us to learn more about her whereabouts and wellbeing".

"We are thus calling on anybody who has information on Louisa, Alaa and Nabil to urgently step forward and share this information with us".

"If our colleagues are still being held, we call for their immediate and unconditional release", ICRC director of operations Dominik Stillhart said. "With Islamic State group (ISg) having lost the last of its territory, we felt it was now time to speak out".

The ICRC said following the fall of the last territory held by Islamic State group, it fears there is an extra risk of losing track of Akavi.

He had heard rumours of rescue attempts, and the ICRC network has tried to find her over the last years.

"When I woke up this morning and I saw that that was the information that came out of New Zealand, I was slightly surprised". In 2014, she was among a group of hostages moved by IS only hours before a raid by USA special forces that aimed to free them.

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