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UN condemns ambush on its convoy in Jonglei

By Deng Ghai Deng

 The United Nations Mission in South Sudan and the World Food Program are condemning a recently attempted ambush of a UN convoy in Jonglei State.

 In a joint statement issued yesterday, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the World Food Program (WFP) say unknown gunmen attacked a convoy of 59 trucks carrying WFP food and nutrition assistance 30 kilometers from Gadiang on Monday.

The Acting Humanitarian Coordinator, MeshackMalo says the convoy was under the protection of UN peacekeepers and moving to various parts of Jonglei State to preposition much-needed assistance for some 95-thousand people ahead of the rainy season when access becomes heavily restricted. Malo says one peacekeeper suffered a gunshot wound during the attack.

“Continued attacks on humanitarians and the attempted looting of vital relief which millions of vulnerable people depend on to survive are a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.” Malo said

Malo says the recent attacks on UN convoys could derail humanitarians’ ability to deliver lifesaving assistance to people in need during this limited window of opportunity that’s available to reach them.

“At a time of major funding constraints, the loss of aid due to theft, looting or destruction means that every bag of food, nutrition or other humanitarian supplies looted is stolen directly from the South Sudanese families most in need.”  Malo added

MarwaAwad, the World Food Program, Spokesperson in South Sudan, called on the government to investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.

“This was the latest in the series of attacks against humanitarians specifically convoys carrying food items from the World Food Program and other essential supplies that are needed by the people of South Sudan in some of the vulnerable and hard to reach areas across the Country, so any attempt to hinder these humanitarian operations is criminal.” Awad said

UNMISS and WFP are urging members of local communities to respect humanitarian operations and UN Peacekeepers who are working to promote peace and stability in South Sudan. TuongMajok is Jonglei state’s acting governor.

“We are appealing to UNMISS and partners not to panic. The government will try means and ways to calm down the situation on that highway.”  Majok said

The number of attacks against humanitarian convoys and assets has been on the rise across South Sudan, reaching 591 in 2021, according to OCHA.  Active hostilities, sub-national violence and violence against humanitarian operations have led humanitarian organizations to seek protection from UNMISS during the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

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