Buenos Aires: An Argentine agricultural engineer kidnapped in Nigeria and held captive for three days in the west African country claimed using the name of his famous compatriot, footballer Lionel Messi, calmed his violent abductors.
The 28-year-old said he owes his life to the star forward.
Santiago Lopez Menendez had been working in the west African nation since last year, planting soya and corn crops close to Kontagora in the north-west of the country, reports an Argentine website on Sunday.
But he was kidnapped earlier this week and beaten violently by his captors, who hardly spoke any English and thought he was north American.
It was then in desperation that Menendez tried to tell them he was Argentine and he was eventually able to calm down his aggressors with repeated cries of “Messi, Messi, Messi”.
Held captive for three days, the engineer was released after the company who employs him paid an undisclosed ransom to the kidnappers.
Back in Argentina, his brother Jorge said on Sunday, “Tell them I am grateful to Messi, he told me. Naming him is what saved me.”
Menendez is now safe and will return to his homeland. (IANS)
A World Health Organization Emergency Committee warns the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo remains a global health threat despite significant progress in containing the spread of this deadly virus. WHO reports a total of 3,431 cases of Ebola, including 2,253 deaths in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.
The Emergency Committee declared the outbreak in DRC a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC, last July. In reviewing the current situation, members of the Committee decided it was premature to declare the global threat over.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says he accepts the Committee’s advice.
“As long as there is a single case of Ebola in an area as insecure and unstable as eastern DRC, the potential remains for a much larger epidemic,” he said.
WHO has revised its risk assessment from very high to high at national and regional levels, and low at the global level. Last week, it reports only three new cases of the disease in North Kivu’s Beni Health Zone. Tedros calls these signs extremely positive.
“But even as we near the end of this outbreak, we must act now to prevent the next one…Only half of health facilities have access to water. Strengthening a health system may not be as sexy as responding to an outbreak, but it is equally important,” he said.
Tedros is traveling to DRC’s capital Kinshasa on Thursday. The WHO chief says he will meet President Felix Tshisekedi and other senior ministers to explore ways to strengthen DRC’s health system.
Chair of the Emergency Committee, Robert Steffen explains why the group decided to maintain the PHEIC despite cautious optimism that the Ebola epidemic was winding down.