Five years on: Negotiations continue for SA hostage in Mali

2016-11-24 07:59
Stephen McGown (Gift of the Givers, YouTube)

Stephen McGown (Gift of the Givers, YouTube)

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WATCH: SA hostage in Mali sends love to family and negotiators in video

2015-12-02 09:00

The Gift of the Givers has described a new video of two hostages being held in Mali, including South African Stephen McGown, as "absolutely credible and realistic".WATCH

Johannesburg – Gift of the Givers says negotiations are continuing in an effort to have two hostages being held in Mali, including South African Stephen McGown, freed after five years of captivity.

"We pray that by this Christmas we succeed in securing an unconditional release as we have run out of options," the organisation said in a statement on Wednesday.

McGown and Swedish national Johan Gustafsson have been held by al-Qaeda in Mali since their abduction in November 2011.

Friday marks five years since they were taken.

Gift of the Givers said its hostage negotiator, Yehia Dicko, was currently in Mali.

Dicko was appointed and sent to Mali in July 2015.

It said Dicko was requested earlier this week to meet "influential" people on the Algerian border, however the organisation had since lost communication with him.

Proof of life

Tribal, religious and spiritual leaders were now negotiating with al-Qaeda on Gift of the Givers' behalf.

"They say, in principle, the AQIM 'elders' agree on an unconditional release but there is resistance and reluctance from the youth. Negotiations continue," Gift of the Givers said.

It said it was informed by the captors that they would send proof of life via video soon.

The organisation added that the situation was tense after the local elections of November 20 in the north were rejected.

"Polling stations were attacked and bombs have exploded everywhere. The situation is tense but the efforts continue right now on the Algerian border," it said.

Since the organisation started negotiating for the two, it has emphasised that it has no ransom money to pay.

Read more on:    gift of the givers  |  mali  |  hostages

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