By Deng Machol
Juba – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has condemned the killing of its aid workers in Morobo County, Central Equatoria region in South Sudan in alleged clashes between armed groups.
In a statement seen by Pan African Visions, its volunteers – one female and two males – were caught in a crossfire during clashes that broke on Sunday morning hours in Isebi, Morobo Country.
However, two other male volunteers sustained injuries, one of whom is recovering from a gunshot wound.
On the other hand, a female volunteer and a four-year-old son of the slain female aid worker were abducted during the attack. The IOM says their whereabouts remain unknown.
The IOM’s humanitarian’s workers were working in Ebola screening points in border areas between South Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, tracking the spread of the deadly disease.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleagues and we extend our heartfelt condolences to their families and friends,” said IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission, Jean-Philippe Chauzy in Juba. “We call for the perpetrators of these senseless acts of violence against innocent civilians and humanitarians to be brought to justice.”
Meanwhile, IOM Director General António Vitorino has expressed his “great pain and revulsion” at the assaults on civilians.
“We grieve alongside our staff in South Sudan, for the families of the victims and reiterate that humanitarians and civilians are not and should never be subjected to such heinous acts of violence – we are not a target,” said Vitorino in a press statement.
As a result, the UN migration agency has suspended EVD screening at five points of entry sites, namely Isebi, Bazi, Kirikwa, Lasu and Okaba, including operations of flow monitoring points and support to health facilities.
“The safety of our personnel is paramount and will not be further jeopardized until we secure guarantees for the security of all our personnel operating in Morobo County,” said Chief of Mission Chauzy. “No effort will be spared to support the grieving families and we reiterate our commitment to support the people of South Sudan.”
With the latest peace deal, the ceasefire has been relative calm in the country, therefore it’s not yet clear which parties carried out the attack. But some non-signatories to the revitalized peace agreement is active in the region, particularly NAS led by former SSPDF General Thomas Cirilo.
However, this brings to 103 the total number of aid workers had been reportedly killed in South Sudan since the conflict erupted in 2013.