Niger: No ransom demands for kidnapped priest

Fr Pierluigi Maccalli who was kidnapped in Niger ten days ago

“We have no news of Fr. Pierluigi. There has been no claim by the kidnappers at present”, said Fr. Mauro Armanino of the Society of African Missions (SMA), a confrere of Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli, Italian missionary seized on Monday night in Bamoanga, a village 125 kilometers from the capital Niamey, capital of Niger. His comments were made to Fides News Agency.

“However, the kidnappers have obtained a first result: everyone is talking about them all over the world”, emphasized Fr. Mauro. “With the abduction of a Western missionary, a group which is probably not even a big group, has managed to gain global visibility”.

Fr. Mauro said the reasons for the kidnapping could be political. This highlights a more complex scenario than that of jihadist groups operating between Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

With Peuls (or Fulani in Nigeria) a nomadic population lives on pastoralism distributed over the entire Sahelian belt that goes from Mali to Ethiopia. Among these populations, extremist sentiments and ideologies have emerged in recent years, and in several countries, from Nigeria to Burkina Faso, from Mali to the Central African Republic, violence committed by the Peuls has been reported.

“The radicalization of these populations is due, at least in part, to the environmental difficulties that make it increasingly difficult to find water and pastures for their herds”, explained the missionary.

“In Niger as well as in neighboring Mali we have seen that the traditional relationships that linked Peuls with other populations, such as the Touregs do not exist”, said Fr. Mauro.

“This accentuates instability and I do not think that the militarization that is taking place in Mali as well as in Niger is the right answer to solve these problems”, said the missionary, referring to the military missions sent by some western States in both countries to fight against the different jihadist movements operating in the area. “In order to stabilize these Countries, instead of sending soldiers, it is necessary to ensure that the relations between the different populations are reconnected. Only by creating an environment of exchange and relations between the inhabitants of these areas will positive results be achieved”, concluded the missionary.