Ghana’s quick rescue of 2 Canadian nationals uncommon – Fmr ambassador

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Canadians Lauren Tilley, left, and Bailey Chitty, who were abducted in Ghana on June 4, have been rescued and are safe. They are volunteers with Youth Challenge International. (Facebook)

A retired Canadian ambassador has hailed the security agencies in Ghana following an operation to rescue two Canadian nationals abducted in the West African country within a week.

Gar Pardy, who has been involved in more than 100 kidnapping negotiations, said the two University of New Brunswick students abducted in Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city last week are “extremely fortunate”.

“These kidnappings can go on for weeks, months and years even, in some cases,” Pardy, who was also Canada’s director-general of consular affairs for 11 years, told CBC.

Lauren Tilley, 19 , of Rothesay and Bailey Chitty, 20, of Amherst, N.S., were volunteering with the non-governmental organization, Youth Challenge International, when they were abducted at the Kumasi Royal Golf Club at 8:25 p.m. local time on June 4.

Eight days later, the two women were rescued during a police raid in the south-central Ashanti region. 

“That was just unbelievably good,” Pardy stressed. “It doesn’t happen very often in these kinds of situations,” Pardy noted.

Eight persons including five Ghanaians and three Nigerians were arrested during the Wednesday morning raid at Kenyase-Achiase.

Since 2016, about eight Canadians have been kidnapped in various parts of the world,” Pardy said. None of those cases are directly related.

A Quebec woman who was last heard from in December, is still missing in West Africa.

Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout was kidnapped in Somalia in 2008 and held for more than a year before being released in late 2009.

That same year, CBC journalist Mellissa Fung was abducted in Kabul, Afghanistan, and held hostage.

“It can happen anywhere,” he said.

What happens behind the scenes?

Pardy has written a paper about the international kidnappings of Canadians and helped develop the concept of travel advisories for the federal government. 

Before he retired in 2003, he had been involved with 129 kidnapping negotiations in countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algeria, Colombia.

Officials have to be very careful when sharing public information about kidnappings, he said. 

When government makes public statements about kidnappings they’re really talking to the kidnappers.

“So you’ve got to be extremely careful in terms of what gets said.”

Source: Daily Mail GH with additional files from CBC

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