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UN condemns killing of two humanitarian workers in Jonglei state

The United Nations has strongly condemned the killing of two contracted drivers last week who were transporting food assistance to Jonglei state.

 “The humanitarian community is appalled by the continued attacks targeting humanitarians and their assets. These recurring acts of violence disrupt the delivery of life-saving assistance and must end,” Meshack Malo, Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for South Sudan said in a statement issued in Juba on Monday.

Malo said that aid workers continue to work tirelessly to provide the much-needed vital support, adding that the continuation of violent attacks inadvertently hampers their efforts.

“We call on the authorities to take urgent action to improve security, to protect civilians, humanitarian personnel and commodities, and bring perpetrators to justice,” he said.

On 17 March, a humanitarian convoy of more than 100 trucks transporting food and other humanitarian assistance came under attack.

Another person died in a road traffic accident as a direct result of the incident.

Malo disclosed that a humanitarian staff was also injured and is currently receiving treatment, adding that the latest incident is one of the several violent attacks targeting humanitarian convoys and workers.

It also revealed that the World Food Programme (WFP) has been forced to temporarily pause its convoy movements out of Bor, Jonglei State, for the second time in as many weeks to re-assess mitigation measures.

“This corridor is critical for our food prepositioning ahead of the rainy season when roads are inaccessible and more than one million people in Jonglei and Pibor rely on the humanitarian food assistance that we transport along this route,” Mary-Ellen McGroarty, the Country Director for WFP in South Sudan said.

She said the safety and security of staff and contractors is paramount.

“When incidents like this occur it is women, men, and children in desperate need of assistance who suffer the most,” McGroarty said.

The UN noted that more than 20 violent incidents against humanitarian staff and assets occurred in January 2023; more than double what it was in January 2022.

It disclosed that an estimated 9.4 million people in South Sudan are projected to be in need of humanitarian assistance or protection services this year.

South Sudan is one of the most dangerous places for aid workers with nine humanitarian workers killed in the line of duty and 418 incidents reported in 2022.

 Three aid workers were killed since the beginning of the year, while on duty providing critical services to the most vulnerable people.

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