The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan has strongly condemned the killing of a UN-contracted aid worker on Sunday, that also left another injured, after the convoy they were travelling in came under attack.
In a press release issued on Monday, Matthew Hollingworth, said the World Food Programme (WFP) convoy had been deliberately targeted, and demanded that authorities “make every effort to bring the perpetrators to justice” ensuring that communities are protected along with “humanitarian personnel and assets across the country.”
“In a week when many families prepare for celebrations and festivities, teams of aid workers across this country do everything in their power to support vulnerable people in need”, said the acting senior humanitarian official.
“An incident of this nature against humanitarians and humanitarian assets is unacceptable unacceptable…These vehicles were clearly marked. I must accept that this was a targeted attack and a violation of international humanitarian law. This behaviour must stop”, added Mr. Hollingworth.
Reports indicate that on 19 December, armed men attacked the convoy of five amphibious vehicles between Tindiir and Duk Padiet in Jonglei State, spraying them with bullets, according to the press release issued by the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA.
The team was returning from Tindiir, where they had delivered critical live-saving food assistance for people adversely hit by flooding in the region, when it was ambushed.
“These specialized vehicles were clearly marked as humanitarian vehicles and are the only means that enable deliveries to flooded zones”, OCHA stressed.
Mr. Hollingsworth said that given all of greater Jonglei has suffered from flooding in the 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 these brave 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”.
People in Duk County were significantly impacted by flooding in 2020 and again in 2021, where there are approximately 130,000 people estimated to be in need.
UN response teams are leveraging as much support as possible to provide food assistance for these people, including 17,000 children under-five, who benefit from life-saving nutrition support.
Since March 2021, there has been an increase in the number of armed attacks against civilians and especially against humanitarians and humanitarian assets across South Sudan.
5 humanitarians killed in 2021
This incident marks the fifth death of an aid worker in the field during 2021 in South Sudan. Most of those killed were South Sudanese, said OCHA, reiterating that such incidents disrupt humanitarian operations, which are most needed by the most vulnerable across the country.
“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”, said Mr. Hollingworth.