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Six killed in 'heinous murder' of Sudan aid workers Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Six killed in 'heinous murder' of Sudan aid workers

Nearly 80 aid workers have been killed since South Sudan's civil war began [AFP]

Date of publication: 27 March, 2017

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The attack marks the deadliest targeting aid workers in Sudan since civil war broke out in 2013, and threatens to derail aid distribution with millions at risk of starvation.

Six aid workers were killed on Saturday in South Sudan, the UN said on Sunday.

The attack marks the deadliest incident targeting humanitarian organisations since the country's civil war began. 

The UN did not immediately say who the victims were, which aid organisation they worked for, or who was responsible for the attack. 

The Sudan Tribute reported that they were employees of a national non-governmental organisation. 

The aid workers were ambushed while traveling between the capital Juba, and the town of Pibor in Jonglei state.

The attack, described as a "heinous murder" by Eugene Owusu, the UN's humanitarian chief in South Sudan, follows on from two others targeting aid workers this month. 

Owusu noted that the spike in attacks not only threatened the lives of aid workers but also "threaten the lives of thousands of South Sudanese who rely on our assistance for their survival."

"Every time an attack of this nature happens, we say that it must never happen again. And yet it does. I implore all those in positions of power to step up to their responsibilities and stop this, as they are ultimately accountable for what happens under their watch," said Owusu, in a statement.

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"There is no safety when attacks are met with silence and inaction."

Around 7.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in South Sudan, according to the UN, in the midst of a man-made famine.

The Juba government is seen as largely responsible for the famine by the UN. 

Speaking earlier this week UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that "South Sudanese leaders need to do more to demonstrate their commitment to the wellbeing of the country's people."

The Juba government has also been accused by aid organisations of trying to profit from the humanitarian crisis by sharply raising foreign worker visa fees to $10,000 per person. 

South Sudan became an independent nation in 2011, but has descended into a conflict defined by ethnic violence. 

The civil war began in December 2013 following a dispute between the Dinka President Salva Kiir, and Nuer President Salva Kiir. 

Close to 80 aid workers, the UN says, have been killed in South Sudan since the conflict began. 

On Thursday as many as 1,000 civilians sought shelter at a UN facility outside Pibor, where the slain aid workers were travelling to, in fear of an attack by a local tribal militia. 

Pibor has witnessed a number of violent attacks over the course of the war. 

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