UN official condemns attack on humanitarian worker in South Sudan

The United Nations logo is displayed on a door at U.N. headquarters in New York February 26, 2011. REUTERS/ Joshua Lott

The United Nations’ top relief envoy in South Sudan Monday condemned the targeted attack on a UN World Food Programme (WFP) convoy, and the murder of an UN-contracted aid worker and injury of another.

Matthew Hollingworth, acting humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan said armed men attacked on Sunday the convoy of five amphibious vehicles between Tindiir and Duk Padiet village in Jonglei State, northwest region, spraying the vehicles with bullets.

“Every humanitarian aid worker in this country has the right to carry out their work in a safe and secure environment. Perpetrators of such heinous acts must be brought to justice,” Hollingworth said in a statement issued in Juba.

The UN official said the team was returning from Tindiir, where they had delivered critical live-saving food assistance for flood-affected people when it was ambushed.

“These vehicles were clearly marked. I must accept that this was a targeted attack and a violation of International Humanitarian Law. This behavior must stop,” Hollingworth said.

He said an estimated 130,000 people in Duk County, Jonglei State were significantly impacted by flooding in 2020 and again in 2021. The response teams are leveraging every support to provide food assistance for these people, including 17,000 children under five years who benefit from life-saving nutrition support.

According to Hollingworth, given that all of greater Jonglei has suffered from flooding these past three years, it is entirely irrational that perpetrators that come from this region, whose families would have benefited from their deliveries in the recent past, attacked aid workers delivering humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities.

“These senseless acts of violence compromise our ability to continue assisting people in remote and difficult to reach flooded areas,” he added.

The latest incident brings to five the number of aid workers killed while undertaking their work in 2021.