South Sudan: Western Envoys Urge Juba to Probe Attack on Aid Workers

(file photo).

Western diplomats in South Sudan are calling on the unity government to investigate the looting and killing of humanitarian workers in the country.

In a joint statement, heads of diplomatic missions from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States urged authorities to bring to book the perpetrators behind the killing of aid workers. Turkey also endorsed the statement.

"Over the past weeks, direct attacks on humanitarian workers took place in Renk, Jamjang, Gumuruk, Torit and Panyijiar. Humanitarian workers have endured brutal beatings, attacks, robberies in their compounds, roadside ambushes when travelling in clearly marked NGO convoys and the tragic death of two health workers.

"South Sudanese aid workers and their families suffer the brunt of these targeted attacks and South Sudan tragically remains one of the most dangerous places to be an aid worker with 126 humanitarians killed while providing critical services since 2013," reads the statement.

The donors said that killings, brutal beatings, roadside ambushes involving shootings, and large-scale looting of emergency supplies in the last few weeks across South Sudan have put life-saving assistance and essential services in peril, disrupting aid delivery for the most vulnerable and especially the ones at risk of starvation.

The violence in Gumuruk not only resulted in loss of life, including humanitarian staff, but also looting of supplies and the destruction of facilities. According to preliminary estimates, the losses are estimated at over $550,000 and included emergency food rations and nutrition supplies for South Sudanese people already on the brink of starvation.

They said that such losses will further deteriorate the precarious situation for people already on the verge of catastrophe.

"We urge the national and local government authorities and key individuals to facilitate access to assistance for those in need by putting a stop to this vicious cycle of violence by ensuring the safety and security of humanitarian workers and assets, and engaging in urgent dialogue with donors on this end.

"Investigate all reported incidents to ensure the cessation of violence and revenge attacks, and support the local peace dialogues and processes as the way forward, and holding perpetrators to account and ending the impunity," they said.

"Allow UN mission and Ceasefire Monitoring body unfettered access to all concerned areas to be able to exercise their mandates of protection of civilians and of monitoring of the ceasefire."

On May 12, armed bandits shot a female humanitarian worker between Chukudum and Camp 15 when the convoy she was travelling in came under fire from unidentified attackers. The aid worker died later as a result of the injuries.

The convoy included vehicles operated by Cordaid and Save the Children International.

The deceased, identified as Clara Amono, worked for Cordaid as a Specialist in Reproductive Health.

Last week, the International Rescue Committee suspended its operations in Ganyiel Payam of Unity State following the death of Dr Louis Edward.

The humanitarian worker was murdered on Friday at a primary healthcare centre in Panyijiar County. His killers are yet to be arrested.

The main warehouse of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in South Sudan's Pibor Administrative Area was also looted by armed groups. The warehouse had one month's worth of food and nutrition supplies for 33,000 people.

In another incident, over 550 tonnes of food were looted or destroyed in Gumuruk County of Pibor Administrative Area in early May.

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