South Sudanese Catholic Priest, Driver “missing”, Diocese Seeking Answers from State, National Government

The Catholic Diocese of Tombura Yambio (CDTY) in South Sudan is asking the leadership of Western Equatoria State as well as the national government to provide answers on the “whereabouts” of Fr. Luke Yugue and his driver, Michael Gbeko.

In a Sunday, April 28 statement, Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala of CDTY provides the timelines of his missing Priest.

Bishop Hiiboro says that Fr. Luke left Nagero County for Tombura on Saturday, April 27 at noon, traveling “by road on Motorbike together with his Driver Mr. Gbeko.”

“They were last found online at 1:00 PM when called by Catechist Ngbandua of Maringindo,” the South Sudanese Catholic Bishop says in his April 28 statement, and adds, “UP until now Fr. Luke and his Driver have not reached Tombura and are missing, their telephones are off.”

“I write this note to ask the State Government (Western Equatoria) to find Fr. Yugue and his driver Mr. Gbeko and bring them to us,” Bishop Hiiboro says about the Parish Priest of Nazareth Nagero Parish of his Episcopal See.


He continues, “I therefore ask the entire people of God for prayers for the safety of Fr. Luke and his Driver. At the same time, I ask for Calm and Restrain from negative emotions from all of us, while waiting for the State Government to take immediate and appropriate actions.”

“We are waiting for your quick response to this matter,” he says.

In a Monday, April 29 statement he addressed to South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, Bishop Hiiboro seeks the President’s “intervention for the release and safety” of Fr. Luka and Michael, who, he says, “are both missing for the last two days between Nagero County and Tombura County, the Wau road.”

Fr. Luke, he explains, “had gone on a pastoral mission to serve the people of God in Nagero County where he has been working. On his return on 27th April 2024, we lost contact with him to date. The area where he and his driver went missing is under the control of the SPLM/ (10) forces.”

“As a church, we appeal to Your Excellency to help us bring Fr. Luka and those with him alive,” Bishop Hiiboro says in his April 29 letter to President Kiir, which he shared with ACI Africa.

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Referring to his April 28 statement, the Catholic Church leader says, “I have written to the Governor of Western Equatoria State on the matter, and sought help from county authority of the area without success. I am convinced that at this critical moment, the President of the Republic is the only person with the power to save and bring back the priest and his driver to us.”

He emphasizes, “Your Excellency, I am deeply concerned about his disappearance and the state of affairs in Tombura County. You have to come in direct and impose state of Emergency. Your prompt response to this message will be greatly appreciated.”

Earlier, in an audio recording that ACI Africa obtained on April 28, Bishop Hiiboro explains the need for the President to “impose the state of emergency” in the South Sudanese County of Western Equatoria State.

“I cannot believe that in a given country people can go out and kill each other, burn their houses, make others disappear, cause violence and the whole structure of the government is there, looking and sitting and watching this. I cannot believe this,” he laments.

President Kiir, Bishop Hiiboro says, “is the one to bring peace to Tombura; nobody else. He has to, because he's the president of the Republic of South Sudan. Nobody can do it better than him. He has the power, he has the influence ... we have given him the power to rule the people of South Sudan.”


“And I'm asking the President, Mr. President, impose the state of emergency in Tombura. Nobody should be carrying guns,” Bishop Hiiboro emphasizes in his audio recording.

He continues, “The peace of Tombura is the peace of the whole Equatoria State, is the peace of all the States in the Republic of South Sudan.”

The Local Ordinary of CDTY since his Episcopal Consecration in June 2008 appeals for spiritual solidarity and cautions against despair.

“Let us continue to pray,” he says, and encouraging the virtue of hope adds, “Let us not be desperate, but let us use our expertise to bring peace to those who have run from their homes.”

“My heart goes to you and I assure you of my prayers and close support and ask that anybody who can be able to support them and help them please do so and please open your doors to the people who are ... seeking support; offer them support; give them assistance,” Bishop Hiiboro says, referring to those fleeing violence in his Episcopal See.

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