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“It’s not over yet”: UN warns attacks on aid workers still at record high

Juba, South Sudan,

June 20, 2021 –  The delegation from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has warned that threats and attacks on humanitarian workers are continuing unabated regardless of efforts being made by the government to bring the vices to an end.

“It’s not over yet”: UN warns attacks on aid workers still at record high
Refugees at Maban Refugee Camp (photo credit: file)

This comes after the high-level delegation visited the Maban refugee camp on an assessment mission. According to the UN agency’s country representative, Arafat Jamal said the UNHCR was working with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to address the concern.

“The government is aware, I know that they are doing their best to help us — we are also working with UNMISS on this — but it is a problem, and it is not over yet, and I would like to implore the government to please enable us to do the work that we need to do,” Jamal told the media.

The most recent phenomenon involves an aid worker from the International Rescue Committee who was killed Tuesday night by his own relative in Unity State’s Panyijar County. The unnamed local worker is said to be on his way home from a video hall he owned in Nyal when he was attacked according to Colonel William Gatjiek Mabor, the County Commissioner.

Carol Sekyewe, IRC’s country director for South Sudan, said though the assailants had no intention against the organization, attacks against aid workers were not welcomed.

“It makes it very difficult for us to work when humanitarian workers are attacked and killed. The initial analysis does not show [the assailant] was directly against IRC, but still, the aid worker was our colleague and we all feel the pain of his loss. He was doing a lot for nutrition for a lot of people in Nyal,” Sekyewe said.

In May, Dr. Louis Edward Saleh was found dead in Ganyiel Payam of Panyijar County, where he was serving in the only medical clinic in the area. A forensic report released by the government said Saleh bled to death from several cuts on his neck and other stab wounds.

Members of the local community sunk deep into misery after IRC pulled out in protest. Mabor pleads with the organization to resume operation for the sake of the vulnerable members of the community.

“They are dying every day and that is why I want NGOs to ask for their protection, not because they don’t have the right to pull out. They have rights, but I need them to ask for their protection and then serve the innocent people. Panyijar people are not wild animals, they are human beings,” Mabor told the media.

In early June, VOA reported that two workers with the Italian Charity Doctors with Africa were killed when their convoy was ambushed in a village about 64 kilometers from Rumbek in troubled Lakes state.

The country representative says while the government was working to stamp out attacks against aid workers, there was a need for the State to double its efforts.

“In South Sudan in general there is a problem of security of humanitarian workers, and I have discussed this at many levels with the government. We are here to work together with the government and people of South Sudan, but it is essential for us to also be protected. You cannot attack the people who are here to protect,” he said.

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