German Catholic Priest Still Missing 100 Days after Kidnapping in Mali

Fr. Hans-Joachim, a Catholic Priest of German nationality who went missing on Sunday, November 20 in a suspected forceful abduction. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Tuesday, February 28 marked 100 days since the disappearance of Fr. Hans-Joachim Lohre, a German Catholic Priest, in a suspected kidnapping incident in Bamako, the capital of Mali.

The Catholic Pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, confirmed in a February 28 report that the whereabouts of Fr. Hans-Joachim, fondly referred to as Fr. Ha-Jo, remain unknown.

“It is exactly 100 days today, February 28th, since Father Hans-Joachim Lohre was kidnapped in Bamako, the capital of Mali, while he was going to celebrate mass,” ACN says, adding that the whereabouts of the Priest who was kidnapped on November 20 last year near the school where he served, in Bamako, “are still unknown”.

Fr. Ha-Jo was taken away as he was preparing to celebrate Holy Mass in a church in the city of the West African nation.

His car was found abandoned and the cross he always carried with him was on the ground near the car.


In the November 23 report, ACN said it was following the situation of the missing member of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) closely, with a call for prayers for his safe release.

Thomas Heine-Geldern, the international Executive President of the charity foundation, called for everyone's prayers for the release of the German Priest, saying, “We ask for prayers from all our benefactors and friends for the immediate release of Father Ha-Jo. He is a peace builder in the midst of violence and terrorism. Our Foundation has supported his mission in recent years and now he needs our prayers and solidarity.”

The charity foundation expressed “pain and concern” over the disappearance of Fr. Ha-Jo who, for over 30 years, had been a keen champion of religious cohesion in Mali.

The foundation highlighted the Catholic Priest’s deep commitment to inter-religious dialogue in Mali, recalling how he had, for long, been the foundation’s contact person in the West African nation.

“ACN expresses its pain and concern over the disappearance and likely kidnapping of missionary Hans-Joachim Lohre – or Ha-Jo, as he is known – in Bamako, the capital of Mali, where he has worked for over thirty years,” ACN said in the November 23 report.

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The Pontifical charity foundation noted that the missing German Catholic Priest, who taught at the Institute of Christian-Islamic Education before the suspected kidnapping, had taken part in several events hosted by the Pontifical charity foundation.

During a visit to Switzerland, Fr. Ha-Jo is said to have expressed his fear concerning the religious extremism in Mali, saying, “The jihadists come in groups, on motorcycles, and the local communities have to make deals with them. They are forbidden from ringing church bells and drinking alcohol, and women are forced to wear the veil”.

ACN has called attention several times to the situation endured by Christians in the country, namely in Central Mali, where the Katiba Macina jihadist group, linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), operates.

The member of the Missionaries of Africa, the foundation has reported, “was well aware of the danger he faced in his work every day.”

In the February 28 report, ACN said that the kidnapping of Fr. Ha-Jo has been seen as “another sign of the deteriorating living conditions of the Christian community” in Mali.


The suffering of Christians in Mlai, ACN says, is a result of the violent actions of several jihadist groups operating with relative impunity in the Sahel region, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean Eastward through Senegal, Southern Mauritania, Niger River in Mali, Burkina Faso, Southern Niger, Northeastern Nigeria, South-Central Chad, and into Sudan.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.