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Kidnapped Nonviolent Peaceforce Civilian Peacekeeper Released Unharmed

BRUSSELS, June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) is pleased to share today the release of Mr. Umar Jaleel, an NP international civilian peacekeeper working on Basilan Island in the Mindanao region of the Philippines who was kidnapped from the NP residence by a group of armed men on Friday, Feb. 13. Jaleel is alive and is currently en route to medical facilities. He was released today at 1245 UTC near the vicinity of Tipo Tipo on Basilan. Jaleel was released through negotiations between a spokesperson for the captors and NP, with the assistance of local contacts supported by the provincial administration.

NP, ( a non-partisan, non-sectarian and non-political organization currently has 17 International Civilian Peacekeepers and 22 local staff serving in the Mindanao region. NP focuses on civilian peacekeeping through an unarmed, trained civilian peacekeeping force that works in conflict zones worldwide. They work to enable dialogue among parties in conflict and provide proactive presence for civilians and communities at risk, and to contribute towards consolidating structures of peace at the grassroots level of society.

The release was accomplished nonviolently and without payment of ransom.

"We are grateful and relieved for the safe return of Mr. Umar Jaleel," said Mel Duncan, executive director for NP. "We are thankful to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and its forces in Basilan, the Moro National Liberation Front, the crisis management committee of Basilan, the Provincial Governor of Basilan, the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for their cooperation during Jaleel's captivity."

"We are not discouraged by this traumatic event," added Duncan. "This is even more reason to intensify our efforts in supporting local work that promotes peace and coexistence. NP supports the use of proven nonviolent strategies to resolve conflicts and prevent the unpredictable consequences of violence. While this has been an arduous ordeal, I urge everyone to not demonize anyone involved."

"We are glad that Jaleel and his family will be reunited in Sri Lanka in the very near future," added Duncan.

Atif Hameed, a native of Pakistan and country director for the NP Philippine project, worked on the ground using nonviolent strategies.

"Atif and his staff did an excellent job monitoring the events and working with our partners in supporting Jaleel," continued Duncan.

Jaleel, an experienced Sri Lankan peaceworker and a Muslim, is widely admired and respected in the area of Basilan, where he is working. He began working for NP in 2004 in Sri Lanka to resolve disputes among communities in the Trincomalee district of Sri Lanka. Last October, he was asked to begin working in the Philippines to help improve Muslim-Christian relations and support local peace organizations and structures of peace to consolidate peace processes. His efforts helped to strengthen the role of local civil society organizations and peace advocates in monitoring a fragile ceasefire between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and various armed groups on the island of Basilan.

About Nonviolent Peaceforce

Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP, is an unarmed, paid civilian peacekeeping force that is invited to work in conflict zones worldwide. NP is sent to conflict areas to prevent death and destruction and protect human rights, thus creating the space for local groups to struggle nonviolently, enter into dialogue and seek peaceful resolution. Its members include veterans of conflict zones and experienced peacekeepers. With its international headquarters in Brussels and administrative office in Minneapolis, NP has worked in the conflict areas of Sri Lanka as well as the Philippines and Guatemala.

SOURCE Nonviolent Peaceforce
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