05/10/2017, 09.27
YEMEN - INDIA
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New appeal from Fr. Tom, kidnapped in Yemen: "Free me, my health is deteriorating" (video)

In a video of about two minutes he thanks his family for messages of closeness and solidarity. The Salesian, with a long beard from his long-term imprisonment, expresses his "sadness" because government and ecclesiastical authorities have failed to gain his release. Perhaps his kidnappers attempts to relaunch negotiations.

anaa (AsiaNews) - "I'm Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil and I was born on August 18, 1958. I received the messages of support sent by my dear family, worried about my condition. And I am grateful for this, thank you very much": these are the words spoken by the Indian Salesian priest, kidnapped in Yemen in March 2016 and posted online by his captives hours ago (click here for video). This is the second the armed commando holding hostage Fr. Tom, who the priest says " They are treating me well to the extent they are able", have posted video appeals.

The first was posted on December 26, in conjunction with Christmas holidays, and it was the proof  awaited by the Church and the Indian government that he was still alive. On that occasion he had appealed to Pope Francis for his release; Moreover, he had stated - perhaps under duress of his captors- that he had been "forgotten" by civil and ecclesiastical authorities and needed care.

Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil has been in the hands of the jihadist group, in all likelihood linked to the Islamic State (IS), since 4 March, whem they stormed a home for the sick and elderly of the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, in southern Yemen. In the attack four sisters of Mother Teresa and 12 other people present in the building were massacred.

In the second video released on May 8 [but dated 15 April 2017] and whose authenticity has yet to be independently verified, the priest asks to be "released" and warns that "health condition is deteriorating quickly". He adds that kidnappers would have contacted "the bishop of Abu Dhabi and the Indian authorities" but the response was "not encouraging, and I am very sad."

Should the video prove authentic, however, it would be an encouraging sign, because it testifies that Fr. Tom is still alive and the kidnappers are trying to relaunch the channel of negotiations for his release.

The religious from Kerala appears in images long bearded after more than a year of imprisonment. The general conditions of health seem satisfactory, though he asks to "be hospitalized" for medical care "as soon as possible". He also says he is "sad" because all attempts to get his release have not been exhausted.”

Fr. Tom concludes his short video [it lasts less than two minutes] addressing his family again: "My dear family people, do what you can to help me be released. Please, please do what you can to help to get me released. May God bless you for that"

 

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