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Saturday, February 25, 2017
Freed Colombian hostage visits CAFOD to say thanks
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¬†Mark Henderson, one of the hostages freed in Colombia last month, has visited CAFOD and given the organisation a donation its support its peace and reconciliation work in Colombia. CAFOD's partner Caritas Colombia was key to the release of Mark and the four Israeli tourists who were held hostage in the jungle by guerrillas for three months. Thirty-two-year-old Mark visited the agency's headquarters in Brixton and met CAFOD Director, Chris Bain and staff from the Latin America section. Mark, who has been living with his parents in Yorkshire since his return said: "It's the first time I've been in London since my release and I wanted to personally thank all the people who helped get me and my fellow hostages freed. "I know that CAFOD had regular contact with their partners who were carrying out the negotiations and gave my parents information and support throughout the whole kidnapping. We are all very grateful for this but I appreciate that it is part of their ongoing work on peace and reconciliation in the whole of Colombia. Obviously, I now see how vital and important this work is and I would like to work with CAFOD at some time in the future to help them raise funds but also to raise awareness of their work. "I am very interested to find out exactly what happened and how our release was negotiated. I know the guerrillas wanted to highlight the humanitarian situation and the human rights issues in Colombia and I want to find out more about this. When I was being held I asked my captors how they could fight for human rights when they were taking away my human rights but they said it was part of their culture ≠ it's a difficult situation to understand", he added. A recent report by a commission including CAFOD's partner and the Colombian ombudsman found that the local indigenous communities are suffering severe hardship as a result of conflict between guerrillas and paramilitaries. The report calls on the Colombian government to begin a relief programme as well as security measures in the area. Caritas Colombia is planning to set up a relief programme in the near future with the support of CAFOD.
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