UN urges South Sudan to ensure safety of aid workers

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JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - FEBRUARY 25: The now destroyed tent camp areas in the UN Protection of Civilian sites in Malakal in the northern conflict zone of South Sudan. This vast and crowded camp was attacked just over a week ago by armed gunmen who killed 25 and injured over 100 more. Some are returning to the charred site to retrieve anything that might have survived the blaze in February 17-18. The attackers burnt down over a third of the campas well as water towers, latrines, a UNICEF school and IOM medical clinic. Around 5,000 Shilooks (one of the three main ethnic tribes) were led out and are now at various locations around the now ruined town of Malakal- now creating very difficult logistics for the UN and various other aid agencies on the ground in the area. (Photo by Giles Clarke/Getty Images)

A United Nations envoy in South Sudan has condemned the brutal killing of an aid worker in Panyijiar County on Friday and urged the government to ensure the safety and security of humanitarians in the country.

“This is utterly unacceptable. Attacks against civilians and clearly-identified humanitarian assets constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law,” Alain Noudehou, humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, said in a statement issued on Sunday evening.

Noudehou condemned the attack on a clearly marked humanitarian convoy, including an ambulance, a few kilometers away in a separate incident reported on the same day in Koch.

In the first incident, the UN agency said, a South Sudanese doctor who was working for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) was killed inside a health facility in Ganyliel Payam.

Almost at the same time, an IRC convoy, including an ambulance, carrying 10 aid workers, was shot at by unknown gunmen on the outskirts of Guol Village, southeast of Koch Town, Unity State, but the humanitarians managed to escape the attack.

Noudehou said these two attacks come barely 10 days after another aid worker was killed in Budi, Eastern Equatoria, on May 12 amid an escalation of violence against humanitarians in recent weeks.

He called on the authorities to investigate these crimes to bring the perpetrators to justice, stressing the humanitarians who are working hard to provide much-needed assistance to people in need must be respected and protected.

According to the UN, two aid workers have been killed so far in South Sudan in 2021 and another nine in 2020.

A total of 126 humanitarians, mostly South Sudanese, have lost their lives while providing critical assistance to people across the country since the conflict broke out in late 2013, the UN said.

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