IRC Appeals for Release of Canadian Staff Member Fadi Fadel in Iraq
The International Rescue Committee is urging the immediate release of Fadi Fadel, who was abducted April 7 in Najaf.
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“We are gravely concerned about the safety and condition of our colleague, who was leading the IRC’s efforts to provide needed humanitarian aid to vulnerable children and youth in southern Iraq,” says Marie de la Soudiere, who oversees the IRC’s global programs for children affected by armed conflict.
The IRC is working closely with the Canadian government to secure his release and we remain hopeful that he will be freed unharmed.
Fadel, who is from Montreal, Canada, was overseeing a Unicef-funded program in Iraq that included the rehabilitation of youth centers, the distribution of wheelchairs and other special aid for wounded children, and the establishment of “Safe to Play” sites. The idea behind “Safe to Play” is to provide war-traumatized children and youth with a safe and structured environment where they can engage in normal recreational and learning activities, away from the chaos that surrounds them.
“In spite of the risks and challenges, Fadi was always 100 percent positive about our program here,” said one of his colleagues in Najaf. “Working closely with members of the Iraqi community who shared his concern for children was the part he enjoyed most,” she said.
Fadel helped develop 20 “Safe to Play” sites, serving some 10,000 Iraqi children and adolescents.
The IRC has suspended its programs in southern Iraq amid the deteriorating security situation, but continues its health, sanitation, water supply and other humanitarian programs elsewhere in the country.
The IRC is grateful for the cooperation of Canadian authorities, as well as community and religious leaders in Najaf who have expressed support for Fadel’s release.