“Stop threatening our people”: Catholic Bishop in South Sudan to Military, Armed Rebels

Bishop Alex Lodiong Sakor Eyobo of South Sudan's Yei Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop of South Sudan’s Yei Catholic Diocese has called on the military and armed rebels to halt their threats and intimidation of the people of God in the East-Central African nation.

Speaking to the faithful on Sunday, July 24 at Ombasi, a host community in Yei township for the internally displace persons (IDPs) and refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Bishop Alex Lodiong Sakor Eyobo said that the conflict between those armed and civilians is affecting farming and livelihoods.

“I want to make this appeal to everyone who is carrying a gun, whether you are in the town or in the bush, please don’t come into our villages to start intimidating our people who are cultivating for their survival; don’t use your guns to intimidate our innocent people in their places,” Bishop Lodiong said.

He added in reference to civilians, “The only way for them to survive is through farming. Why would you discourage them from doing what they are relying on?”

“They are not carrying guns and are not even a threat to you. Why would you intimidate them?” the South Sudanese Bishop posed during the July 24 event, when the faithful at Ombasi gathered to pray with him


He added, “These farmers will be the ones to feed us in Yei because they will cultivate here in the bushes and bring food for us in the town.” 

The Local Ordinary of the Yei Diocese emphasized the need for peaceful co-existence, saying, The peace that we want to live in should be the one we build from the ground with our people to talk to them and we will be like brothers and sisters. The peace that has been signed doesn’t reach here because people can’t still move freely.”

“I want to appeal to those in the local government, if you are assigned to work in your Payams please come and serve your people here; you need to come and see the situation your people are going through because you are appointed to help them when they are suffering,” he said.

The 51-year-old Catholic Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry on May 15 continued, “Good politics is the one that brings service to our people because if your politics don’t bring service to your people, then they will reject you.”

He called for fraternity among community members, saying this can foster reintegration of returnees.

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“Let us work and prepare the ground for our people who were displaced as a result of the conflict to come back because they will not come back unless we prepare the ground for them,” the South Sudanese Bishop said, adding, “To prepare the ground we have to be brothers and sisters.”

He underscored the need for peaceful co-existence between security agencies and civilians. 

“Let the army respect our civilians because it’s the civilians that will feed the army,” Bishop Lodiong said, and posed, “If our army intimidates our civilians who will feed them?  This is the peace we want to build from the ground, not peace signed on papers and remaining in Juba.” 

“To all our Churches and the government in your various capacities, if you want our people from camps to return to their various places let us make this place conducive,” the Local Ordinary of the Yei Diocese said July 24.

He explained, “Nobody will come from the camp when there are no schools in the places destroyed. There are people who destroyed schools, health centers, even churches and you want the people to return home where they would live.” 


Patrick Juma Wani is a South Sudanese journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. Patrick holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from Makerere Institute for Social Development (MISD) in Uganda. He has over 7 years of extensive experience in leading the development and implementation of media, advocacy, communication and multimedia strategy and operations, with an excellent track record of editorial leadership, budget management, and stakeholder outreach. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.