ATTACK – Over 500 aid workers flee Maban
A photo of aid workers gathered at Maban airstrip (FB courtesy photo)
By David Mono Danga
Reports indicate that over 500 aid workers were evacuated from Maban, Northern Upper Nile yesterday due to violent attacks on them by “Unknown Gunmen” on Monday.
The humanitarian workers from various organizations working in Maban County includes all the UN organisations and the International medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières also known as Doctors without Borders (MSF).
With the latter releasing a statement suspending its activities in the area after suffering a deadly violent attack on its staff.
“Yesterday morning (Monday), a group of unidentified armed men broke into MSF office and compound, looting the organisation and staff’s properties, burning down a tent full of equipment and destroying most of the vehicles and communication devices,” says MSF.
The statement indicated that no staff was physically injured during the attack.
The attack has forced MSF to suspend the majority of its medical support to the host communities and the refugee population in Maban area, where the organisation operates a primary and secondary healthcare hospital in Doro refugee camp and ensured primary healthcare consultations in Bunj State Hospital.
The news of the attacks went viral on social media prompting a mixture of emotional reactions on Twitter and Facebook in particular.
With some citizens campaigning for heroic welcome of the evacuated aid workers at Juba International Airport.
“Any plans to welcome these Heroes and Heroines at Juba International Airport? They (aid workers) deserve a Heroic Welcome home. Thank God, “no one is missing in action”. However, it is not yet confirmed as to when the youths (workers who flee) would be reporting to work and taking the respective positions of their choice,” posted Akim Mugisha on Facebook yesterday.
Wani Micheal said he was worried the 500 plus aid workers set to leave Maban might remain jobless for some time as there were no indicators of them resuming work soon.
“They will automatically become jobless and they will all camp in Juba. I am worried and concerned because they will also demand for jobs in Juba…This is a wrong precedence for my beloved country, we have been calling on government to urgently and quickly speak out and address this issue,” he added.
Ajak Lorya refered to the attack on aid workers in Maban as a Somalia system of governance that must be eradicated.
“Somalia system of governance approaching!!!! Let’s harvest the outcome of hate speech in RSS (Republic of South Sudan), Ajak commented.
Several organizations had and are still withdrawing their staff from Maban. These international NGOs had strongly condemned the brutal attack and called for the respect and protection of humanitarian workers and health facilities.
On twitter people condemned the attack using the hastag #Maban.“CARE International condemns the attacks on #humanitarian aid workers and facilities in #Maban County, #SouthSudan. Humanitarians in #SouthSudan help millions in need, affected by this large humanitarian crisis. Safety of aid workers and #IHL need to be respected! #NotATarget,” @CAREGLOBE.
The UN Refugee Agency Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, George Okoth-Obbo twitted yesterday that; “No amount of socio-economic discontentment justifies or excuses this gratuitous attack + violence by probably misled youth against @Refugees + other humanitarian premises, assets + our dedicated workers in Bunj, Maban, SouthSudan.”
“Strong solidarity we are all victims and survivors,” Okoth-Obbo lamented on twitter.
In a response to a Miraya twit, Alejandra Gaviria asked “What did the #Maban youth obtain with this (attack)? It caused humanitarian organizations to suspend all their activities and withdraw from the area.”
She said the most affected in the end will be their own communities. This is a disproportional misplaced anger against the wrong people.
“UN has nothing to do with employment in the country, instead of questioning the government for such demand. You could have the knowledge but in specific of humanitarians’ field know. #Maban for humanitarian support,” King Charl replied to a twit by the Community for Empowerment Progress Organization (CEPO).
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR on Monday also strongly condemned the attack on its compound in South Sudan’s north-western town of Bunj, in which two UN staff were injured.
“UNHCR was informed of a demonstration demanding employment opportunities for the local community. The demonstrators forcefully entered UNHCR’s compound and looted its offices and residence,” the statement read.
It said the people of Maban had accused humanitarian organizations of recruiting people from outside Maban County. Ten other humanitarian agencies’ compounds as well as the office of the Commission for Refugee Affairs (CRA) have been attacked and looted.
“This is an act of senseless violence towards humanitarians and deeply regrettable,” says UNHCR Deputy Representative and officer in charge in South Sudan, Vincent Kwesi Parker.
“UNHCR deeply appreciates the hospitality and generosity of South Sudan and its people towards refugees. We strongly appeal to the authorities to ensure the safety and security of humanitarians.”
Latest pictures coming from #Maban on the attacks on other agencies working so hard to meet their urgent needs. (twitter photo)
“Strong solidarity w/all victims and survivors,” Okoth-Obbo lamented on twitter.