UN agency urges South Sudan to protect aid workers

Flag of South Sudan with flare and dark blue sky

The United Nations relief agency has called on South Sudan to protect communities, humanitarian personnel and assets across the country after the killing of three aid workers on Thursday.

Sara Beysolow Nyanti, the humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan and Arafat Jamal, the Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim (a.i.) who condemned the incident urged the perpetrators to respect international law and humanitarian staff and assets.

“This attack is completely unacceptable. This is not the first of these incidents in this area. Criminals who choose to use violence to serve themselves ensure vulnerable people suffer more. If humanitarians and humanitarian assets are not protected, humanitarian assistance to that area will have to stop,” Nyanti said in a joint statement issued in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, on Friday evening.

A convoy of commercial trucks carrying vital life-saving food commodities from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) was attacked between Gadiang and Yuai in Jonglei state on Thursday.

Three people on the convoy were killed, and one person was wounded.

Nyanti is currently visiting donor capitals to raise the profile of the needs of people in South Sudan and advocating for support.

“When humanitarian assistance is attacked, it is the people in need who suffer. Indeed, such incidents discourage those donor countries who would otherwise invest in South Sudan,” she said.

Jamal on his part called on the government to immediately implement its commitments to ensure civilians, including humanitarians, are safe.

“I have unfailing admiration for everyone who helps and supports people in need. It is devastating to realize that people undertaking vital work can be executed so heartlessly. The crime is compounded when these attacks go unpunished. These killers must not be allowed to roam free,” he said.

South Sudan, which is one of the most dangerous places for aid workers saw 319 violent incidents reported in 2021 targeting humanitarian personnel and assets, with five aid workers killed, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.