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SPLM-IO release 10 aid workers abducted in S. Sudan’s Yei

Non-food items distributing to IDPS by the UNHCR workers in Maridi on 4 March 2016 (ST Photo)

April 30, 2018 (JUBA) - Ten aid workers detained last week outside Yei have been released and handed over the to the Red Cross announced the South Sudanese rebels in a statement released late on Monday.

Lam Paul Gabriel SPLM-IO spokesperson said the release came after a directive issued Sunday from the group’s leadership to release the "10 aid workers that entered the SPLA IO controlled area without any clearance".

"It has been confirmed this afternoon the 30/04/2018 at about 2:50 PM that, the ICRC in coordination with Lt. Gen. Wesley Welebe and the Division 2B Commander Maj. Gen John Mabieh Gaar picked up the Aid workers and are safely on their way to Juba," said Gabriel.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in a statement issued from Geneva, confirmed the release of the ten aid workers.

"The South Sudanese aid workers were transported by ICRC aircraft from an area around Yei to the capital, Juba," said the ICRC.

Last Saturday the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) condemned the abduction of ten aid workers around Yei town in Central Equatoria, working for UN agencies and NGO’s and urged their immediate release.

The move was seen as a violation of the peace and the cessation of hostilities agreements, which demand unimpeded access for humanitarian aid workers in South Sudan.

However, Gabriel blamed the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) for not coordinating with them saying this is the second time they detain aid workers who enter into the SPLM-IO controlled-areas without clearance and called for close coordination on this respect.

"The SPLA IO on several occasions advised UNOCHA field coordinator to coordinate with our humanitarian wing by providing notice of their movements and activities in advance, unfortunately, it is not forthcoming" he stressed.

On 15 April, the SPLM-IO released seven aid workers with the South Sudan Health Association (SSUHA) who had been detained in the Central Equatoria.

At the time, the rebels said they captured the aid workers after discovering two South Sudanese security agents deployed in the rebel-held areas as humanitarians deployed to "carry out hostile surveillance".

Gatwich Tap Nyuot’s issue

The rebel official also denied "baseless" reports about the execution of a South Sudanese aid worker detained in the Greater Upper Nile region.

"The Leadership of the SPLA IO is strongly refuting the accusation trending social media alleging that Dr Riek Machar has authorized the execution of Mr. Gatwich Tap Nyuot who is termed to be an ICRC local staff arrested by SPLA IO in Akobo".

Nyuot "is an agent of the regime and not an Aid worker in anyway," he added.

However, he said the detainee will be investigated and tried.

(ST)