A priest from Kerala, India who was abducted by ISIS early this year appeared in a YouTube video where he pleaded for help for his release, directing his appeal to Pope Francis and the government.
Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who looked thin and spoke with a weak voice, said he felt sad that nothing has been done by the government and the church to get him released.
Father Tom also said his being an Indian could have been a factor for the lack of effort to help him, adding that if he were a European priest, he would have been released already.
“I’m sad that this is the situation,” he said in the video. “If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously by authorities and people and would have got me released.”
“I am from India and therefore I perhaps am not considred as of much value.”
Father Tom appeared to be reading the message from text displayed in front of him.
He addressed the Indian government and said it has not done much for him despite the many times his captors contacted the authorities.
“Several months have gone by and my captors have made many contacts with the government of India to get me released,” he said. “Reports have been in the news that everything is being done to get me released quickly, but in reality, nothing seems to have happened. I’m very sad and depressed.”
Father Tom was kidnapped in Yemen in March when a retirement home run by the Missionaries of Charity was attacked. The identity of his captors is not yet known, and no group has yet claimed responsibility for it, according to NC Register. ISIS and al-Qaeda both have a strong presence in Yemen, and the Arab country is suffering from internal conflict. There could be a number of possible suspects for his abduction.
The priest implored fellow Christians to come to his aid.
“I request also my fellow Christians in India, the bishops and priests, to do their might to help me get released and thus to save my life,” he said.
He also addressed Pope Francis and asked him to work on his behalf.
"Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed,” Father Tom said. “My health is deteriorating. I am in need of hospitalization soon. Please come to my help quickly.”
The Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia has confirmed that the man in the video bore a resemblance to Father Tom. It is uncertain when and where the video was taken, but the vicariate said there are “strong indications to believe that he is still alive.”
“Since the day of the abduction of Fr. Tom, the Church has made countless appeals from the highest levels to secure his release as well as made concrete efforts by way of working in close collaboration with both international and local diplomatic channels,” the vicariate said in a statement.
The Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, Bishop Paul Hinder, has been working with different groups to ensure the abducted priest’s safe release, the statement further said.
The vicariate urged everyone to continue praying for Father Tom.