Three employees of international charity Save the Children were kidnapped on Wednesday in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the organization said on Thursday, as insecurity in the region continues to hamper humanitarian efforts.
The Congolese staff members were taken at 3 p.m. (8.00 a.m. ET) in North Kivu province, Save the Children said. It declined to comment further or share the identity of the abductees, but said it was working to resolve the situation quickly.
North Kivu province, which borders Rwanda and Uganda, was ravaged by regional wars that killed millions between 1996 and 2003. Dozens of armed groups remain there, often preying on locals, exploiting the area’s natural resources and stopping key aid from reaching the region.
At least 175 people were kidnapped for ransom in eastern Congo last year, according to Human Rights Watch. Many of the kidnappings appeared to be carried out by former and current members of armed groups.
Congo ranks 176 out 188 countries on the U.N. Human Development Index and is heavily dependent on aid from non-governmental organizations and U.N. agencies.