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.
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"
The superior of the Aden community has entrusted to a sister the dramatic story of the assault on the nursing home for the elderly and disabled. The sisters were killed because of their "fidelity" to their mission, by being found ready "to welcome their Spouse”. A blood sacrifice in the hope that it will bring about "shoots of peace for the Middle East and help stop Isis". The signed letter (PDF).
A day of prayer organized by the Bishops' Conference. The initiative was also joined Protestant communities. Rev. Thomas Jacob: "Let us pray for him to return home safely." Hundreds of faithful at candlelight vigil organized at Our Lady’s Cathedral Trivandrum.
On January 21 and 22 the Bishops' Conference has invoked a day of prayer for the liberation of the Salesian missionary. Card. Cleemis: We await with "anguish and prayer," news of his "release", that he is "alive and safe." Salesian Vicar: Amid the difficulties prayer is "essential" to "keep hope alive".
Since March 4 last, the Indian Salesian has been in the hands of an Islamic State commando. Yesterday, the kidnappers released a video, in which he appeals to Francis, the Indian government and Catholics worldwide. He adds: "I urgently need medical attention." Delhi assures: Regular contact with local authorities and regional powers.
Indian government sources report that the Salesian kidnapped in Yemen is alive, well and they are working to ensure his release. He is not in the hands of the Islamic state, but "anti-government forces." Msgr. Hinder urges caution because "there are no new elements." He is optimistic, but calls for prudence.
Some 200,000 people are expected at the solemn Mass at Kyaikkasan Grounds, including Buddhist and Muslim leaders. Some 6,000 kids will take part in the Mass for young people the next day. Filipinos, Australians and Thais are also expected for Pope Francis’ apostolic journey. From our correspondent.
The coalition led by Riyadh blocks the arrival of fuel needed to run the wells. Over a million people without water in Taiz, Saada, Hodeida, Sana'a and Al Bayda. According to UNICEF, 1.7 million children suffer from acute malnutrition”; 150,000 children are likely to die in the coming weeks. The silence and neglect of the international community. The threat of hitting crude-cargo ships. Yesterday, Saudi Arabia allowed the reopening of Sana'a airport and Hudayda port, but only for humanitarian aid. An insufficient measure.