Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Bishop Recalls How Refugee Helper Died

Nairobi, October 9, 2003 (Catholic Information Service for Africa) - The Bishop of Djibouti Msgr Giorgio Bertin has narrated how veteran refugee helper Dr Annalena Tonelli was killed.

Bishop Bertin who is also the Apostolic Administrator of Somalia said that Dr Annalena was shot at close range by a man who was waiting for her at around 8:30 pm on Sunday October 5, 2003, within the hospital compound as she was going home.

"In effect Annalena had been threatened several times in the past, I made a photocopy of the two threat papers," he said.

The prelate expressed his fears that nobody may be found to continue the work of the slain doctor.

"She had only assistants, nobody who could be considered her deputy or who could replace her," said bishop Bertin.

Immediately after she had been shot, she was taken into the hospital and the doctors tried to save her life. Although many people present offered their blood for her, the bullet that had hit her was fatal and she died while undergoing treatment.

Bishop Bertin confirmed that the police have arrested several people in connection with the murder, but no certainty has been reached concerning the killer.

Only five days after she was killed, her absence was already being felt in the community.

"There is the problem of paying salaries of some of her workers for the end of the month of September," the bishop feared. "Probably also the rent of the house of Annalena for the month of September ($200 per month) is to be paid. What will happen to the TB hospital without her?" he wondered.

Doctor Annalena was also working with helpers from neighboring Kenya.

The bishop said that some teachers had only come from Kenya to help her two days before she met her death.

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