Six aid workers dead in ambush in South Sudan

Monday, March 27, 2017

The United Nations (UN) has confirmed six aid workers in South Sudan were killed on Saturday in what the UN representative called a "heinous murder."

The attack occurred in a government-controlled section of road as the six workers drove from the capital, Juba, northeast to Pibor. The victims were later found by other members of the humanitarian convoy. UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan Eugene Owusu described the attack as "utterly reprehensible". He also expressed his outrage that it occurred while humanitarian needs are higher than they have ever been.

At least twelve aid works have died in South Sudan this year, according to the UN, 79 since the December 2013 outbreak of civil war. This month, the South Sudanese government also announced plans to increase visa fees for humanitarian workers to US$10,000.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for South Sudan David Shearer said in response to the attack that humanitarian workers in South Sudan faced more danger than almost any other country. The country's deputy ambassador to the UN, Joseph Moum Malok, has reiterated the government's commitment to assist people affected by famine and civil war, and asked the international community to maintain their involvement.

A UN report obtained by Agence France-Presse and Reuters has suggested the government is also continuing to expand its arms stockpile despite the famine, allegations the government denies. A recent outbreak of cholera in parts of the country has exacerbated the crisis and increased pressure on aid workers. UN figures suggest 7.5 million South Sudanese now require humanitarian aid, with one million verging on starvation.