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UNMISS condemns killing of aid workers in S. Sudan

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August 5, 2014 (JUBA) – The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has condemned Tuesday’s killing of at least five South Sudanese aid workers within Bunj in Upper Nile state.

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NGOs distribute relief items to civilians in Bor town of Jonglei state, 9 October, 2012 (ST)

The incident has been blamed on Mabanese Defence Forces, an armed group in Maban county.

UNMISS, in a statement issued Tuesday, said it dispatched a unit of peacekeepers in four armored personnel carriers from its base in the Upper Nile town of Melut to protect UN and humanitarian personnel, as well as civilians taking refuge within its facilities.

The mission called upon local, state and national authorities to bring to justice the individuals responsible for these murders as soon as possible to halt the ongoing descent into lawlessness in Maban.

Toby Lanzer, the UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, said that Maban, where some 127,000 refugees from Sudan are living, has seen an increase in violence and harassment of civilians and aid workers, jeopardising the lives of tens of thousands of men, women and children who count on aid organizations for their survival.

On Monday, a local staffer working for the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) was also shot and killed after he was reportedly pulled out of a NPA vehicle.

“It’s with a heavy heart Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) today has received the sad news that our good colleague Gabriel Yien Gach was shot and killed in Maban County in South Sudan this morning”, NPA said in a statement on its website.

“Our thoughts are first and foremost with Gabriel Yien Gach’s family and our colleagues in South Sudan,” it adds.

Gach reportedly worked in NPA’s food security and livelihood program, supporting the local community, as well as the internally displaced, with agriculture support and emergency food.

Kathrine Raadim, the head of international department at NPA “strongly” condemned any attacks on civilians in the ongoing crisis.

“Any attacks on civilians are unacceptable, but attacks based on ethnicity are even direr as they will only feed into the circle of violence and revenge”, said Raadim in a statement.

“It is also completely unacceptable to attack NGO [Non-Governmental Organisation] personnel who’s only mission in the field is to help the people of South Sudan in the face of this enormous, man-made, crisis”, she added.

NPA has also demanded investigations in to the killing of their staff and that the perpetrators fully be held accountable.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said it was extremely concerned by the outbreak of fighting in the northern South Sudanese town of Bunj in Maban, where increasing violence compromised the security and well-being of over 100,000 Sudanese refugees and those of humanitarian agencies’ staff assisting them.

“UNHCR appeals to all parties to the conflict to refrain from harassing humanitarian agents who are dedicated to saving lives of people in need”, said Cosmas Chanda, UNHCR’s chief in South Sudan.

(ST)

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