March 26, 2017 (JUBA) - Six aid workers were on Saturday ambushed and killed in South Sudan, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the war-torn nation, said.
The incident, Eugene Owusu said, occurred as the aid workers travelled from the country’s capital, Juba to Pibor town in Jonglei state.
The staffs from a national non-governmental organisation were reportedly ambushed in their vehicle in a government-controlled area on the Juba-Pibor road Saturday morning and their bodies were found on the road by others members of the convoy who were some way behind.
"These attacks against aid workers and aid assets are utterly reprehensible," said Owusu.
"They not only put the lives of aid workers at risk, they also threaten the lives of thousands of South Sudanese who rely on our assistance for their survival,” he added.
Nearly 80 aid workers, the U.N says, have been killed in South Sudan since the conflict started in December 2013.
The killing of aid workers hampers the provision of assistance to the population in a country where famine was recently declared, with another 5 million on the brink of starvation.
South Sudan’s conflict, the outcome of a rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar has led to the death of thousands and displacement of millions.
CALLS FOR INVESTIGATIONS
The Special Representative of the U.N Secretary-General for South Sudan, David Shearer has urged South Sudan government to investigate and apprehend the aid workers’ killers.
“The United Nations condemns this appalling and pointless loss of life,” said Shearer.
“This cold-blooded killing is utterly reprehensible, not least, because these aid workers were dedicated to alleviating the ongoing suffering of the people of South Sudan,” he added.
According to Shearer, their deaths bring the total number of aid workers killed in South Sudan since 2013 to around 80.
This, he said, is “an indication that the country is one of the most dangerous places in the world in which to be a humanitarian worker”.
In recent months, there has been a sharp rise in attacks on aid workers and their premises, mirroring a rapid deterioration in security and the country’s economic situation.
“The latest attack occurred in areas controlled by the South Sudan government,” said Shearer adding, “The government needs to investigate and apprehend the offenders.
The Special Representative who is also the head of the U.N peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) called for an immediate and complete ceasefire and a resumption of peace talks.