JUBA –Three aid workers and 11 civilians were killed in early January in attacks by gunmen in South Sudan, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – OCHA and local authorities said on Wednesday.
“In the first days of the year, three South Sudanese aid workers who were helping others paid the highest price with their lives,” said Peter Van der Auweraert, OCHA’s head of mission in the African country.
Two of them were victims of an attack by armed men, which left others dead, on January 2 in a village in the oil-rich Abyei administrative area, said the UN agency.
A total of 14 people, including women and children, died in the attack, which was attributed to youth from neighbouring Twic County, Abyei spokesman Ajak Deng told reporters.
The disputed region, which is under UN protection, has been on the border between Sudan and South Sudan since the latter declared independence in 2011.
The death of the third aid worker occurred the same week while monitoring humanitarian supplies in the east-central state of Jonglei.
These three deaths are in addition to the nine killed last year and five in 2021.
OCHA has urged the authorities to strengthen the protection of its staff in this oil-rich country, which is among the poorest in the world.
Since independence in 2011, South Sudan has been plagued by crises, including a five-year civil war between President Salva Kiir’s loyalists and Vice President Riek Machar’s forces, with an estimated 400,000 deaths.
A peace agreement was signed in 2018, battered since then by sporadic bouts of violence between government forces and the opposition, alongside inter-ethnic conflicts.