Humanitarian Community condemns attack on aid convoy in Jonglei
The Humanitarian Community in South Sudan has strongly condemned a targeted attack on humanitarian assets and staff in Jonglei State in which two people were killed and others seriously injured, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.
On 17 March, a humanitarian convoy of more than 100 trucks transporting food and other humanitarian assistance came under attack in Uror County in Jonglei State.
According to the statement, two contracted drivers were shot in the attack, one fatally. Another person died in a road traffic accident as a direct result of the incident. A humanitarian staff was also injured and is currently receiving treatment.
This is the latest in a series of escalating incidents targeting humanitarian convoys and workers. There were more than 20 violent incidents against humanitarian staff and assets in January alone, more than double what it was in January 2022.
“The humanitarian community is appalled by the continued attacks targeting humanitarians and their assets,” said Meshack Malo, the Acting Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan. “These recurring acts of violence disrupt the delivery of life-saving assistance and must end.”
Following the latest attack, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been forced to temporarily pause its convoy movements out of Bor, Jonglei State, for the second time in as many weeks, to re-assess mitigation measures.
“This corridor is critical for our food prepositioning ahead of the rainy season when roads are inaccessible and more than one million people in Jonglei and Pibor rely on the humanitarian food assistance that we transport along this route,” said Mary-Ellen McGroarty, WFP’s Country Director. “The safety and security of staff and contractors is paramount, and when incidents like this occur, it is women, men, and children in desperate need of assistance who suffer the most.”
South Sudan is one the most dangerous places for aid workers, with nine humanitarian workers killed in the line of duty and 418 incidents reported in 2022, according to the UN. Before this incident, since the beginning of the year, three aid workers were killed while on duty providing critical services to the most vulnerable affected by the protracted humanitarian situation.
The UN projects that in 2023, an estimated 9.4 million people in South Sudan will need humanitarian assistance or protection services. The humanitarian situation is worsened by endemic violence, access constraints, operational interference, public health challenges, and climate shocks such as flooding and localized drought.
“While humanitarians continue to work tirelessly to provide the much-needed vital support, the continuation of violent attacks inadvertently hampers their efforts,” Malo said. “We call on the authorities to take urgent action to improve security, to protect civilians, humanitarian personnel and commodities, and bring perpetrators to justice.”