Sjaak Rijke freed: Koenders pleased and grateful

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders has expressed his delight at the news that Dutch hostage Sjaak Rijke has been freed. Mr Rijke was rescued last night during a French military operation in northern Mali, after being held for more than three years

Mr Rijke is now receiving assistance from the Dutch embassy and Dutch military personnel in Mali. He is receiving the care he needs and is doing well, under the circumstances. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed Mr Rijke’s partner of the situation. ‘This is fantastic news for Sjaak and his family,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘I am happy and relieved that they can now put this awful period of uncertainty and sorrow behind them.’ The minister expects Mr Rijke to be reunited with his loved ones soon.

In the years following Mr Rijke’s capture, the Netherlands made continuous efforts to secure his release. Mr Koenders has thanked the French and Malian authorities on behalf of the Dutch government. He discussed the operation early this morning with French Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius.