Two aid workers in South Sudan were shot dead along with four people they were helping after members of an unknown armed group attacked them early this week, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the country said Thursday.
South Sudan is one of the most dangerous places in the world for humanitarian workers even after the country’s five-year civil war ended in 2018. At least 122 have been killed since 2013 including seven this year. Most, like the two killed Monday, have been South Sudanese.
“These terrible acts cannot continue,” U.N. coordinator Mohamed Ag Ayoya said in a statement calling on South Sudan’s government to do more to protect aid workers who take “significant risks” to help millions of people facing hunger and now the coronavirus pandemic.
The gunmen opened fire as the staffers with an international aid group were providing health and nutrition services to residents, mostly women and children, who tried to flee the scene, the U.N. statement said. The aid group wasn’t identified.
The attack occurred in Pajut town center in restive Jonglei state, which has seen vicious rounds of communal violence that have killed hundreds of people this year and displaced thousands.
The violence in Jonglei has forced aid groups such as Medecins Sans Frontieres and the International Committee of the Red Cross to limit their work there in recent weeks.
“Although the fear of further attacks is palpable in the town, the NGO will continue to provide health care and nutrition services,” the U.N. said