(Juba, 11 August 2020) The Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim in South Sudan, Dr. Olushayo Olu, has strongly condemned an unprovoked attack on an NGO convoy in Yei County, Central Equatoria, and called for immediate action by authorities, stating that protecting humanitarian personnel in the country is a duty for all.
On 10 August, an international NGO convoy comprising of two vehicles were ambushed by an unknown armed group in Abegi on the Yei-Lasu road, 16 kilometers from Yei town. The NGO, a UNHCR partner, were on their way to the Lasu settlement hosting refugees from DRC and Sudan to provide health, nutrition and hygiene services. The two vehicles, a van and an ambulance, were carrying 15 passengers, 11 staff and 4 patients, at the time of the attack.
The driver of the first vehicle was shot and injured yet managed to keep driving and escape. The second vehicle, an ambulance, was forced to stop and the passengers fled into nearby bush. All the passengers of the convoy were later accounted for. The ambulance was looted of medical and nutritional supplies by the armed group.
“This is unacceptable. I strongly condemn the unprovoked ambush on a convoy with both vehicles clearly marked by the NGO logo on the van and a visible red cross on the ambulance. Those responsible should be brought to justice. Shockingly, the ambulance was carrying patients at the time of the ambush. I call upon the Government and all parties to step up efforts to protect humanitarians who are trying their best to deliver aid to refugees who are in need during these uncertain times. Armed violence should be curbed in South Sudan so that we can all come together to fight against growing hunger, flooding and the threat of COVID-19,” said Dr. Olu.
Reaching the most in need has become significantly more challenging for humanitarians with the increase in sub-national violence in various areas across the country. The Yei-Lasu road witnesses intermittent ambushes on civilian vehicles, however, the ambush is the first on an aid convoy in South Sudan since 2018. The NGO has been using the route regularly without incident and the ambush will adversely impact the delivery of much needed services to refugees at the settlement.
“This week, I will travel with the Government, donors, UN and NGO partners to Bor and Pibor, to see first-hand the effects of multiple crises on the people on South Sudan. I will also use the opportunity to show solidarity with the affected people and the NGOs working on the frontline to provide life- saving assistance. I will advocate strongly for better protection and more funding during the mission. Attacks on NGOs should not be tolerated.” Dr. Olu concluded.
For further information, please contact:
OCHA press releases are available at www.unocha.org/south-sudan or www.reliefweb.int.
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