Jesuit Refugee Service works to secure release of Afghanistan director
07 July 2014

Fr Alexis Prem Kumar on a day-off in the Indian capital of Delhi (Peter Balleis SJ)
All the information we have continues to suggest that Fr Prem Kumar is alive and he remains in Afghanistan, said Jesuit Refugee Service International Director Peter Balleis SJ.
Rome, 7 July 2014 – This past week marked a month's time since Fr Alexis Prem Kumar SJ, Jesuit Refugee Service Afghanistan Director, was abducted by a group of armed men from a JRS-sponsored school in Sohadat, a government township for returnee families, 35 km from Herat city in western Afghanistan. This past month has been a painful time for Prem's family, his Jesuit confreres across the world, and for all of us in JRS. Although we still have not heard from him or his captors, we live in hope. All the information we have continues to suggest that he is alive and he remains in Afghanistan.

We are grateful for the outpouring of prayerful support that we have received from many quarters. Fellow Jesuits from both India and the rest of the world, as well as members of many religious communities, have expressed their concern for his safety. We are particularly grateful to the advice and assistance offered by several humanitarian aid agencies in the early stages of the emergency. Prem's students and their families in Sohadat pray daily for his release and long for the day when they will see him again in their school, which will re-open upon his release.

During this painful time, we have worked quietly to resolve this difficult situation. We have been in close contact with the Afghan authorities and the Indian Consul General in Herat, Afghanistan. Prem's family has been in touch with both Indian parliamentarians and the Government of Tamil Nadu. We continue to be thankful for and count on their help as they make every effort to assure Prem's release as soon as possible. We have also called on professional expertise and the advice of the local community to advance our efforts at bringing him back to us.

These past weeks have, without a doubt, been trying and difficult ones for Prem. We are concerned about his health, but know that his spiritual strength and personal warmth will guide him through this trial. Our hearts go out to him, to his family and all those who care for him deeply. We are well aware that the current political situation in Afghanistan, following the presidential elections of last month, may make the process of his release more complicated than we had imagined.

After a brief closure last month, we have just re-opened the majority of our educational programmes, relying on our able Afghan colleagues to lead this effort. We remain committed to accompany our Afghan students and their families in their desire for quality education and re-opening our schools is a clear sign of that commitment. We remain committed as well to doing everything in our power to ensure Fr Alexis Prem Kumar's safety and hope that by the end of Ramadan those who have taken him will release him as a festive Eid al-Fitr gift.

Peter Balleis SJ
JRS International Director
7 July 2014

Information to editors
The Jesuit Refugee Service is an international Catholic organisation with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of forcibly displaced persons. With its headquarters based in Rome and with teams working in more than 50 countries around the world, JRS provides education, health, social and other services to approximately 950,000 refugees and internally displaced persons, more than half of whom are women. JRS services are provided to refugees regardless of race, ethnic origin or religious beliefs.

For further information
James Stapleton
International Communications Coordinator
Jesuit Refugee Service
Tel: +39 06 69868 468+39 06 69868 468; +39 346 234 3841+39 346 234 3841

Press Contact Information
James Stapleton
+39 06 69 868 468