AFRICA/MALI - German humanitarian activist released after four and a half years of hostage detention

Saturday, 10 December 2022

Bamako (Agenzia Fides) - German aid worker Jörg Lange has been released after four and a half years of hostage detention. According to information from Der SPIEGEL, the Moroccan secret services in Mali acted as intermediaries for the release of the 63-year-old man. Lange is doing well, but must now be brought back to Germany as quickly as possible. They report that the man was first handed over on December 8 and then was taken to the German embassy in Bamako, the Malian capital, where he was picked up by officials from the Bundes kriminalamt (BKA).
The case dates back to April 11, 2018, when Lange, who headed the private humanitarian organization “Help” in Niger, was attacked and kidnapped by unknown persons on motorcycles in the region of Tillabéri, on the border with Mali (see Fides, 9/4/2022). His Nigerian driver was released soon after. Over the years, the crisis unit made dozens of attempts to free Lange, and the kidnappers repeatedly sent messages from Lange urging his ransom. The man wrote desperate letters to his wife and four children. In a handwritten letter, he warned in 2019, in French, that the federal government should not drag out negotiations with the kidnappers. He was in the middle of a war zone and to the kidnappers he represented the enemy.
German authorities assume that Lange was first kidnapped by a criminal group, but was then likely sold to the Islamist terrorist group “Islamic State in the Greater Sahara” (ISGS).
The missionary Pierluigi Maccalli, kidnapped in Bomoanga, Niger, on September 17, 2018 and released on 8 December 2020, was held prisoner in the same area. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 10/12/2022)