After six years in captivity, American aid worker Jeff Woodke has been released from his kidnappers in West Africa. Woodke was abducted by armed militants in Niger Republic in October 2016 while working for the aid group Youth With A Mission.
According to reports, Woodke’s captors released him to the authorities on March 20, 2023, and he was then flown to the capital city of Niamey, where he underwent medical evaluation and was reunited with his family.
Woodke’s family expressed their gratitude for his release in a statement, saying, “We are overjoyed to confirm that our beloved Jeff has been released and is safe. We want to express our deep gratitude to everyone who has worked tirelessly to secure his freedom.”
The circumstances surrounding Woodke’s release remain unclear, and no details have been given about any potential ransom payment or negotiations with his captors. The U.S. Department of State released a statement welcoming Woodke’s release, but did not provide further details.
Woodke’s release comes as a rare bit of good news in the ongoing conflict in West Africa, where extremist groups continue to operate and carry out attacks in the region. The aid worker’s kidnapping had been a long-standing concern for the aid community, and his release has been met with relief and celebration by those who knew him.
Woodke’s family has requested privacy as they reunite and begin the process of recovery from the long ordeal of his captivity. However, they have also expressed their hope that his release will bring attention to the ongoing crisis in West Africa and the need for continued efforts to promote peace and stability in the region.