Romanian Foreign Ministry Praises Morocco’s “Significant Support” in Release of Longest-Serving Western Hostage in Sahel

The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commended Morocco for its “significant support” in the release of Romanian Iulian Ghergut, the longest-serving Western hostage held captive in the Sahel by an al-Qaeda jihadist group.

Romania announced, on August 9, the release of the longest-held Western hostage, who was kidnapped in Burkina Faso in 2015 by an al-Qaeda-allied jihadist group.

Ghergut, a mine security officer in the north of Burkina Faso, was released following over eight years in the hands of the said jihadist group.

According to the AFP News Agency, Romania’s Foreign Ministry affirmed that the Romanian national “arrived safely on the territory of Romania,” praising Morocco for its “significant support.”

On this occasion, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis expressed, on the social platform X (formerly Twitter), his gratitude to “the external partners who have supported” Romania “in this challenging undertaking.”

A security officer at a manganese mine in the north of Burkina Faso, near the borders with Mali and Niger, Iulian Ghergut, was kidnapped on April 4, 2015, by five armed men.

His kidnapping was claimed by the jihadist group Al-Mourabitoun, which shortly afterward joined forces with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Ghergut’s mother, who heard the news on television, told the Romanian channel Digi 24 that she was “surprised” following “eight years with no news and no hope of seeing” her son again, that that “we cried, but all that matters is that we’re happy he’s coming home.”

At least three Italians and a German are still held captive in the Sahel, along with a South African kidnapped in 2017.

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