Home | News    Thursday 30 March 2017

South Sudan welcomes joint investigation for six killed aid workers

A woman passes by a peacekeeper inside the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site on 15 February 2016 (UNMISS Photo)
March 29, 2017 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government said it was ready to accept a joint investigation to establish which group was behind the murder of six aid workers.

The aid workers were from the national organisations identified as Grassroots Empowerment and Development Organisation (GREDO), which works to support children released from armed groups.

Unknown gunmen attacked the six workers last week Saturday. No group has claimed any responsibility for the horrendous act. There have been no reports of any clashes between the armed forces in the area prior to the incident. The area is widely believed to be under a full control of the government and allied armed youth from Jonglei state. The armed youth recently carried out an invading attack in Boma state.

Tut Kew Gatluak, the Presidential Advisor on Security Affairs told the Sudan Tribune that the government was ready to accept any group interested in participating in the investigation process. Gatluak said the government had already been to the scene of the incident with members of the monitoring body, representatives from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and ceasefire monitoring body.

“What happened last week was an act of terrorism, which we condemned as the government. We call on our civil population to assist the government to get the perpetrators. We want to get to the bottom the incident and because of this interest, the government has now visited the scene of the incident with the groups and stakeholders interested in establishing the facts,” explained Tut Kew Gatluak.

The presidential aide declared that the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), a ceasefire monitoring and verification body, chaired by Major General Molla Haile Mariam, was free to conduct an independent investigation to establish the identity of the group and the motives for killing aid workers along Juba-Pibor road.

According to the 2015 agreement, CTSAMM is comprised of representatives from the two main warring parties, the Former Detainees (FDs), other Political Parties, the Women’s Bloc, Civil Society Organizations, the Youth, Eminent Personalities, IGAD, the African Union (AU), China, the Troika member countries comprising United States United Kingdom and Norway, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the European Union (EU) and the IGAD Partners Forum.

Festus Gontebanye Mogae, head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) said in a report, the JMEC is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement as a whole and is the parent body for other institutions.

These institutions include the National Constitution Amendment Committee (NCAC), the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC), the Economic and Financial Management Authority (EFMA), the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and the Board of Special Reconstruction Fund (BSRF). JMEC in return reports to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union and the UN Security Council amongst others.

The European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, The United Kingdom, and the Heads of Mission of Canada, China, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the United States have issued a joint statement on Thursday. This was their reaction to the killing of the six aid workers, where they condemned the act and called on the government to probe the incident.

The Heads of foreign missions in the country called upon the government to thoroughly investigate the attack and to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

“The Heads of Mission strongly condemn and deplore the reprehensible killing of six aid workers along the Juba to Pibor road on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Our deepest condolences go out to the families, friends, and colleagues of the deceased,” reads the statement released to the public on Thursday.

The foreign diplomats stressed and reminded the government of its main constitutional responsibility to ensure security and safety of the citizens and residents of the country. They also called on all parties to ensure safe, secure, and unhindered access of aid workers to people in need in the country.

“To prevent future such incidents, the Heads of Mission call upon all armed actors to undertake a ceasefire in line with the Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, and to make genuine efforts to bring about peace, stability, and improved humanitarian access,” it adds.

Since the eruption of the conflict in 2013, at least 79 aid workers have lost their lives in the line of duty while delivering assistance to areas that need it most in the country.