South Sudan: Humanitarians call for justice after latest deadly attack

The appeal comes after a convoy of more than 100 trucks carrying food and other supplies was ambushed in Jonglei state on Friday.

Two contract drivers were shot, one fatally, and another person died in a related traffic accident. A humanitarian worker was injured and is being treated.

Escalating incidents

The one attacked marked the newest a series of escalating incidents targeting convoys and aid workers in the country, the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced on Monday.

More than 20 violent incidents were reported in January alone – more than double the number in January 2022.

“The humanitarian community is appalled by the ongoing attacks on humanitarian workers and their assets; These recurring acts of violence are disrupting the delivery of life-saving assistance and must end,” said Meshack Malo, United Nations interim coordinator of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan.

Convoys temporarily halted

The attack forced the World Food Program (WFP) to temporarily halt its convoy movements out of Bor, Jonglei state, for the second time in as many weeks. The UN agency is reassessing mitigation measures.

“This corridor is crucial for our food preparation before the rainy season when roads are inaccessible and more than a million people in Jonglei and Pibor rely on the humanitarian food aid we transport along this route,” said Mary-Ellen McGroarty, WFP South Sudan country director.

She stressed that the safety of employees and contractors is of paramount importance, adding that when attacks occur, “women, men and children who are in dire need of help suffer the most”.

Dangerous work

South Sudan is one of them the most dangerous places in the world for humanitarians, according to OCHA. Nine aid workers were killed last year and nearly 420 incidents were reported. Prior to this latest attack, three aid workers were killed on duty.

An estimated 9.4 million people in the country will need assistance or protection this year.

call for justice

OCHA said the humanitarian situation is being worsened by factors such as endemic violence, access restrictions, public health challenges and such climate shocks as floods and localized droughts.

“While humanitarian workers continue to work tirelessly to provide much-needed vital assistance, the continuation of violent attacks inadvertently hampered their efforts,” Malo said.

“We call on the authorities act urgently to enhance security, protect civilians, humanitarian workers and goods, and bring perpetrators to justice.”


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