A group of seven major humanitarian aid organizations condemns the recent killings and attacks on South Sudanese aid workers in Maban County in the Upper Nile State of South Sudan. We call on all parties to the conflict to immediately stop the targeting of aid workers, to respect international humanitarian law and to allow humanitarian agencies access to reach those in need.
Since the conflict began in December 2013, over 1.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to fighting including over 400,000 people who are refugees in neighboring countries. Nearly 4 million people in South Sudan are suffering severe food crisis or emergency levels of hunger. In the past eight months, humanitarian actors have faced increasing challenges in accessing affected populations.
All aid agencies have expressed their deepest condolences to the families and colleagues of those who have given their lives.
Tariq Riebl, Oxfam’s Country Director in South Sudan:
“We want to express our heartfelt condolences to the families and peers of the aid workers who lost their lives in Maban. The senseless deaths of these aid workers, after their tireless efforts to provide assistance to the people in need, are simply incomprehensible. Since the violence started eight months ago we have seen increasing blocks to humanitarian aid, including the intimidation of staff providing vital assistance, at a time when the urgency of the response is only increasing. South Sudan is in the throes of a humanitarian emergency – a food crisis that is the outcome of a man-made conflict – and our efforts to provide assistance are hampered when aid workers are targeted. Their safety and security are paramount.”
Aimee Ansari, CARE’s Country Director in South Sudan:
“CARE is deeply concerned and grieved by the recent fatal attacks on aid workers in Maban County. Although CARE has no staff working in this area and was not directly affected by this violent incident, these attacks point to the levels of brutality that exist in this conflict and the potential safety risk for our staff throughout South Sudan. As the needs resulting from this conflict escalate, it is imperative that the safety of our staff is secure so that the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance is not compromised.”
Randhir Singh, Country Director, Relief International in South Sudan:
“Relief International (RI) condemns the horrible killing of aid workers in the strongest possible terms. RI lost one staff (Confirmed killed) and another one still missing during recent hostility in Maban. The unfortunate killing of aid workers is a shock to all, and our thoughts & deepest sympathies are with their family, friends and colleagues during these difficult times. While RI remains committed to provide critical humanitarian services to vulnerable communities in South Sudan, the safety and security of humanitarian staff must be ensured.”
Wendy Taeuber, Country Director, IRC in South Sudan:
“The IRC joins in the condemnation of these targeted killings, having lost two of its own staff in the killing inside the UNMISS Bor base on April 17. We remain committed to providing humanitarian assistance, but security and safety of our staff is paramount in order to be able to operate.”
Alexandra Todorovic, Action Against Hunger:
“We strongly condemn the recent violence against humanitarian aid workers and mourn the loss of those killed. This violent threat to aid workers in the region will likely intensify the food crisis not only in this area, but throughout the country.”
Peter Walsh, Save the Children Country Director, South Sudan:
"Save the Children condemns these brutal killings in the strongest terms. We offer our condolences to the families, friends, and co-workers of our fallen colleagues. Without the assurance of safety for their staff, humanitarian actors cannot work to provide much needed services to vulnerable populations. All actors, including those who are armed, must respect the independence, neutrality and safety of humanitarian staff."
Arie den Toom, LWF/DWS South Sudan Country Representative:
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has strongly condemned the targeted killing of aid workers in South Sudan’s Maban County, as fighting escalates between militia groups in the country’s Upper Nile State.
Vanessa Parra, Oxfam, Washington, DC, +1 (202) 496-1196 (office), +1 (202) 476-0093 (mobile), Twitter: @ParraV.