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Peacemaker released unharmed in Philippines

Umar JaleelA release just came from Nonviolent Peaceforce with some happy news:

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.  Jaleel was released through negotiations between a spokesperson for the captors and NP, with the assistance of local contacts supported by the provincial administration.

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The release was accomplished nonviolently and without payment of ransom.

NP is an important experiment in using trained, paid peacemakers in conflict situations as an alternative to armed troops. Jaleel exemplifies their interfaith, intercultural approach:

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.