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UNMISS steps up patrols after kidnapping of aid worker in Malakal

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Wednesday said it has ramped up  security patrols around the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal town of  Upper Nile state located North of South Sudan.

This follows the kidnapping on October 27th of Emannuel Obayi, a nutrition officer working with the International Medical Corps from Malakal PoC.

Obayi was kidnapped by Agwelek militia led by Johnson Olony who recently returned to Juba, after signing peace agreement in January 2022 with the government in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.

“UNMISS soldiers and police increased perimeter security patrols around the POC site. We also reached out to various stakeholders, including the state government, humanitarian partners, and local armed groups, to gather information and verify the whereabouts of the individual in question,” Ben Malor, the chief public information officer of UNMISS told The Juba Echo in Juba.

He said communication with residents of Malakal PoC remains strong, adding that insecurity is not the main issue.

Malor revealed that the kidnapping incident was reported to the Mission leadership on October 27th through its Malakal field office, adding that UNMISS is ready to retrieve the kidnapped humanitarian worker. 

“In 2023, there were two similar incidents. In October, a UNMISS national staff member was reported missing in Agok boma in Western Bahr El Ghazal State, officials took urgent steps to find him, and he was released soon after,” he said.

In June, a UN police officer was similarly reported missing in the Malakal PoC and was later on found.

“It’s important to note that UNMISS has faced numerous attacks on humanitarian workers, resulting in the tragic loss of approximately 42 lives in 2023,” Malor said.

The Agwelek militia was part of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) led by First Vice President Riek Machar before it split from the latter in August 2022.

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