- Part of an 18-truck WFP convoy crossing into South Sudan from Sudan, carrying 700 metric tons of food, in Nov 2014 (WFP video screen capture)
September 21, 2021 (JUBA) – The Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim in South Sudan, Matthew Hollingworth has strongly condemned the latest attack on a humanitarian convoy in Yei County, Central Equatoria, calling for authorities and communities to ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel delivering assistance to the most vulnerable people in South Sudan.
“I am appalled by the horrific news of yet another act of violence against humanitarians and people serving the community in South Sudan. I want to express our condolences to the family and colleagues of the driver who was killed in Yei County on Friday,” he said in a statement.
On 17 September, the convoy of a World Food Program (WFP) cooperating partner, consisting of seven people in three trucks, was attacked in Mugwo Payam, Yei County. The convey was travelling from Yei to Morobo and carrying 121 metric tons of food supplies destined for livelihoods programming in support of host communities in Morobo County.
The driver of one of the trucks, a South Sudanese citizen, was killed when the unknown gunmen opened fire on the convoy. One person was injured, two were found unharmed and three others are currently missing.
“Humanitarian personnel work tirelessly to deliver assistance to the most vulnerable people in South Sudan, including women, children and the elderly. Attacking them as they carry out their work is unacceptable and has to stop. I call on all parties to respect, protect and enable those organizations and personnel working to provide humanitarian assistance to the citizens of South Sudan,” explained Hollingworth.
Humanitarian access remains challenging across South Sudan with a spike of violence against humanitarian personnel and assets reported this year. Since March, aid workers, people serving the community, and assets have been ambushed or attacked in at least eight of the ten states in the country. The attacks led to the suspension of humanitarian activities and the relocation of workers.
“These attacks constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law. The trend of increased violence against humanitarians cannot continue. Our thoughts are now with the three people still missing. We hope that they will soon be safely back with their families,” stressed Hollingworth.
A total of 126 humanitarians, mostly South Sudanese, have lost their lives while providing critical assistance to people across the country since the conflict broke out in late 2013.