Rescued aid worker eager to return to work

A rescued aid worker appears keen to get back to the Kenyan refugee camp from which he and a Canadian colleague were snatched at gunpoint, a spokesman for their aid organization said Tuesday.

TORONTO — A rescued aid worker appears keen to get back to the Kenyan refugee camp from which he and a Canadian colleague were snatched at gunpoint, a spokesman for their aid organization said Tuesday.

Rolf Vestvik, with the Norwegian Refugee Council, said the duo had made no decisions on their next steps, but said it was important they had some quiet time first.

Steven Dennis, 37, of Toronto, and Qurat-Ul-Ain Sadazai, 38, of Gatineau, Que., were among four aid workers snatched at gunpoint from the huge Dadaab refugee camp inside Kenya near the Somalia border on Friday.

A pro-government Somali militia rescued them Monday inside Somalia in a mission that saw one of their captors killed.

“(Dennis) sounds like he is mostly keen to go back to Dadaab and continue his work there,” Vestvik said from Oslo.

In the interim, Vestvik said the Canadians were taking a day of rest in Nairobi to recover from their harrowing ordeal.

“They have actually been making a lot of decisions the last three days that meant life or death to them, so they’ve been in an extremely stressful situation,” Vestvik said.

“Even though people seem very good after such an ordeal and also say that they’re OK, it is important for us around them to make sure that they really are OK.”

Sadazai has close relatives in Nairobi and has been living there.

Also kidnapped with them were Astrid Sehl, 33, of Norway, and Glenn Costes, 40, a Filipino.

Their Kenyan driver was killed when four gunmen attacked their two-vehicle convoy. The gunmen took one of the two vehicles and the four workers. The group later abandoned the vehicle and began walking toward the Somali border.

Vestvik said the aid workers were doing some debriefings and were being kept away from the media spotlight.

“We are creating an atmosphere of calm around them so they can have a proper day of rest,” he said, adding they might make media appearances on Wednesday.

Both Dennis and Sadazai were seasoned aid workers and knew the risks.

The Pakistani-born Sadazai had just returned to Kenya — where she had worked from 2007-2010 — in February to become deputy director of the NRC’s operations in Somalia and Kenya.

“We are alive and we are happy this has ended,” Sadazai said after the group landed in Nairobi Monday.

Dennis had worked for the council in Kenya for the past year but also had a lengthy background in humanitarian work with other agencies.

Dadaab is the world’s largest refugee camp with a growing population that has swelled to about 464,000 people.

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