Colombia nun freed after 4-year captivity in Mali returns home

Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez had been held by an al-Qaeda-linked group from February 2017 to her launch on October 9.

A Colombian nun who was kidnapped and held by armed teams in Mali for greater than 4 years has returned home.

Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, 59, was greeted by a dozen fellow nuns, singing “welcome, welcome, our heart welcomes you”, as she arrived at Bogota airport on Tuesday.

She had been taken hostage on February 7, 2017, in southern Mali near the border with Burkina Faso, the place she had been working as a missionary. In a letter final yr, she stated she had been taken hostage by the al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM).

She was freed on October 9 following a joint effort by the governments of Mali and Colombia.

Pope Francis greets nun Gloria Cecilia Narvaez at St Peter’s Basilica on the Vatican [AFP]

While particulars of how her launch was secured stay unclear, the Colombian police had beforehand stated the group that kidnapped her had demanded a ransom.

“The Lord gave me the joy of having brothers and sisters,” she stated after hugging the ready nuns. “I thank you with all my heart.”

In Bogata, Narvaez stated she tried to persuade those that held her in captivity to free different hostages nonetheless being held. She additionally spoke out about victims of abduction in her homeland, which was itself suffering from kidnappings in a battle that lasted greater than half a century.

“I was thinking of all the suffering that people go through when they are kidnapped right here in Colombia, in the whole world, there in Mali, how many people are left,” stated the nun, whose mom died in September 2020, awaiting the discharge of her daughter.

Edgar Narvaez, brother of Colombian nun Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, talks to media after receiving information of his sister’s launch in October [File: Leonardo Catro/AFP]

At the airport, Colonel Gustavo Camargo, deputy director of the anti-kidnapping police who had gone to Mali to press for her launch, advised the nun: “Your strength amazes me.”

Kidnappings have grown more and more widespread in Mali lately, significantly within the nation’s huge northern and central areas, the place armed teams have proliferated since 2012 by feeding off of financial insecurity, dwindling pure assets, and pre-existing sectarian tensions.

Several Westerners stay within the fingers of armed teams within the nation, a lot of which have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda or ISIL (ISIS). Those embody an American clergyman kidnapped in Niger and a French journalist kidnapped in northeastern Mali in April.

Before returning to Colombia, Narvaez travelled to the Vatican to satisfy Pope Francis.