MALI: ‘We want her free’

With image of Sister Gloria Narváez Argoti (© Aid to the Church in Need)
With image of Sister Gloria Narváez Argoti (© Aid to the Church in Need)

A handwritten note sent by a kidnapped nun to her brother has come to light, in which she appeals for prayer for an end to her four-year ordeal at the hands of jihadists.

Sister Gloria Narváez Argoti, 57, who was abducted in Mali, sent the letter to Edgar Narváez Argoti, a message seen by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

The note says: “I send everyone my warmest greetings. May the good Lord bless them and grant them health. I have been held prisoner for four years, and now I am with a new group.

“May they all pray a great deal for me. May God bless them all. I am hopeful that God will help me to regain my freedom. Your loving sister, Gloria.”

According to latest reports, Sister Gloria is being held by the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM), militants belonging to a jihadist alliance in the Sahel with links to Al-Qaeda.

The Sister, originally from Colombia, was kidnapped in February 2017 while working in Karangasso, Mali, close to the border with Burkina Faso.

The note, dated 3rd February 2021, was sent via Red Cross International and was received by Mr Narváez in May, who revealed the details to ACN.

Mr Narváez told ACN: “She sent greetings to the family, said she was in good health, and asked for an appeal to be made to the authorities here in Colombia to take measures to enable her to be released and return to Colombia.”

Mr Narváez had written to Sister Gloria to inform her that their mother, Rosita Argoti de Narváez, died in September 2020 aged 87 “unable to endure the sadness and despair any longer” of her daughter’s captivity.

An international mission headed by Colombia was suspended in June after travelling to Africa with the intention of securing her release.

Mr Narváez said he was “a little saddened and disconcerted” by this because “the Colombian group that went to find her has returned, and my sister is still alone…

“That is what we all want [Sister Gloria’s release]. That is what my mother longed for – to see her free and to die in peace. But it was not to be.”

Sister Gloria was held hostage with Sophie Petronin, a 75-year-old French doctor who was released in October, and Mr Narváez was concerned his sister will be lonely without her.

He said: “They were together for four years, they lived together, ate together, slept in the same tent. They were guarded, but enjoyed a degree of freedom.

“Up to a point, they were able to go outside and count the stars, the pebbles and the animals passing by, in order to kill time, because they had nothing else to do.”

Describing Dr Petronin, he said: “She [was] exhausted physically, very thin, her face burnt brown by the sun and by the climate in the Mali region, but thanks be to God she is well. She is very strong.”