Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva was happy to meet Branko Chorbadjiiski, Alexander Dimitrov and Veselin Manolov – the three Bulgarian pilots who spent 145 days in captivity in Darfur, where they were on a humanitarian mission for the World Food Programme (WFP).
The pilots shared with the Commissioner the story of their ordeal – they were kidnapped by gunmen on 13 January in West Darfur and were released in June. Although they were not badly treated by their captors, Mr Manolov, Mr Dimitrov and Mr Chorbadjiiski went through significant hardship – lack of food and water, long trips on foot and terrible uncertainty.
The three Bulgarians had helped rescue a Latvian crew who had been kidnapped in Darfur last year. In the spirit of true European solidarity, their own transit to safety was facilitated by Latvian humanitarians six months later.
The brave pilots are now back with their families, but plan to continue their humanitarian work.
Commissioner Georgieva praised the three humanitarian pilots for their bravery and dedication and discussed with them the complicated situation in Darfur where the need for assistance is as real as ever. She underlined the important but increasingly dangerous work done by humanitarian workers and pledged to continue raising awareness of the need to protect them and their work.