Ref. Report Catholic Aid Worker abducted in Kabul (The Herald Kolkata 17 June – 23 June 2016), the news of the abduction of Kolkata’s Judith D’Souza a senior technical adviser (gender) with the Aga Khan Foundation, is very shocking.
At the same time it was not surprising given the extremely uneasy political scenario in Afghanistan. First-hand reports from a friend of mine (whose company carries out operations for the US contingent in Kabul) confirm that outside the American army security zones which are walled with bunkers and other digital monitoring mechanisms, no one can give guarantee of anyone’s safety. Kidnappers / terror groups lurk around and the moment anyone ventures out without escort vans, he or she is a ripe candidate for abduction.
The Indian Government especially BRO (Border Roads Organisation) is doing a lot for the total reconstruction of Afghanistan – building of roads, infrastructure, communication system and healthcare. However India’s neighbour in cahoots with China is doing everything to nullify all progress under the illusion of keeping its hegemony on Afghanistan.
Against this backdrop, taking up assignments in Afghanistan, is full of risk in spite of all noble thoughts and the best security arrangement. Judith went into her mission knowing of all the dangers.
Under the circumstances it is better to abide by the government advisories than push one’s luck however philanthropic. This should be particularly borne in mind by our Church authorities while deputing priests and nuns overseas, especially the Gulf Countries and Africa. Where there is constant fear of life due to political volatility, Evanzelisation will get impacted and take a backseat. Use of GPS and other advanced systems should be seriously considered to keep track of our valuable human resource on such hazardous overseas trips.
To aggravate the situation further, on 19th June there was a suicide blast in Kabul. Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi tweeted 64 "innocent Afghans" were killed and 347 wounded. On Monday 20th June a Taliban suicide bomber killed 14 Nepalese security guards in an attack on their minibus in Kabul, the Interior Ministry and an Afghan security official said. They were on their way to the Canadian Embassy where they work as guards.
Let us keep praying for the safe return of Judith and also of Fr Tom. Let us hope Cardinal Cleemis, as the Head of the Catholic Community in India, is in regular touch with the Namo Government.