News / Europe

French Priest Freed After Cameroon Kidnapping

French Roman Catholic priest Georges Vandenbeusch (L) smiles on Dec. 31, 2013 next to French Ambassador to Cameroon Christine Robichon as he arrives at the French ambassador's residence in Yaounde after being freed following a six-week ordeal.
French Roman Catholic priest Georges Vandenbeusch (L) smiles on Dec. 31, 2013 next to French Ambassador to Cameroon Christine Robichon as he arrives at the French ambassador's residence in Yaounde after being freed following a six-week ordeal.
— A Catholic priest kidnapped in northern Cameroon by Islamist militants has been freed. The Reverend Georges Vandenbeusch, a French citizen, was abducted nearly seven weeks ago. A Cameroon military aircraft flew him Tuesday from the town of Maroua to Cameroon's capital, Yaounde.

Vandenbeusch looked neat and healthy in his white t-shirt as he stepped off a Cameroon army plane. He told reporters that members of the Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram kept him isolated and deprived of information during his captivity.

“It was terrible," the priest said. "Seven weeks in one spot, doing nothing. No books to read, nobody to talk to, and no radio. Terrible.”

Vandenbeusche says the past seven weeks were a time of confusion and uncertainty for him. He expressed gratitude to God and to authorities in Cameroon, Nigeria and France for negotiating his freedom with members of  Boko Haram

“I want to see my bishop," Vandenbeusch said. "I want to see people who are dear to me. I do not know what to do. I will wait and reflect on my future, I do not know what to say.”

Christians and Muslims alike organized an ecumenical service of thanksgiving in Maroua, and Bishop Philips Stephens said the local community was happy the 42-year-old priest was released unharmed.

“It is good news and joy for all of us in our diocese," Stephens said. "We have prayed for him together, Muslims and Christians.”
 
French President Francois Hollande thanked Cameroon and Nigeria for helping win Vandenbeusch's freedom. The priest was kidnapped at his home  on Nov. 13 in the far north of Cameroon, about 30 kilometers from the border with Nigeria.

French officials say they had urged the cleric to leave the area near the Nigerian border for his own security, but that Vandenbeusch decided to remain in the remote area to continue his missionary work.

It is believed that a ransom was paid for the priest to be freed, but no details have been made public.

Nearly one year ago Islamist militants from neighboring Nigeria abducted seven French citizens, including four children, in northern Cameroon. The group abducted in February was freed later.

You May Like

Diplomats Work to Extend Arab-Israeli Cease-Fire

Top officials from the US, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gather in Paris, while Israel security forces continue searching for tunnels used by militants and Gazan rescue workers search for bodies More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid