Nairobi – The United Nations said on Friday that three humanitarian workers had been murdered in South Sudan this month, expressing deep concern over a recent escalation in violence targeting aid workers.
One aid worker with an international NGO was last week caught up in a crossfire and shot dead in a warehouse in the oil-rich Unity state, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.
A UN staffer working at a health facility in a camp for internally displaced people was also killed in the same week.
The third victim died in an ambush in Jonglei state, an eastern region plagued by gun violence and inter-ethnic conflict.
“People in South Sudan are living in insecurity, and a fast-deteriorating humanitarian crisis, and those working tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable continue to lose their lives,” said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, the UN humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan.
All three victims were South Sudanese.
OCHA condemned the killings and urged the authorities to step up efforts to protect aid teams.
“We call upon armed individuals and respective authorities to safeguard the lives of civilians and humanitarians,” said Nyanti.
“We condemn in strongest terms all forms of violence against civilians and humanitarians.”
South Sudan is considered one of the most dangerous countries for aid workers.
The latest murders pushes to eight the number of aid workers killed this year, OCHA said.
The world’s newest nation has suffered from chronic instability since independence in 2011, with the UN repeatedly criticising South Sudan’s leadership for its role in stoking violence.
One of the poorest countries on the planet despite large oil reserves, it has lurched from crisis to crisis, suffering from civil war, natural disasters, hunger, ethnic violence and political infighting.
Last year, two aid workers working for the Italian charity Doctors with Africa CUAMM were ambushed and killed as their convoy returned from delivering food relief in a village in the conflict-prone Lakes State.
Picture: Getty Images