Six aid workers killed in South Sudan
Six aid workers were ambushed and killed in South Sudan, the deadliest attack on humanitarian workers since the East African nation's civil war began in 2013.
The attack took place on Saturday on the road from Juba, the capital, to Pibor, where there have been recent reports of fighting, said Eugene Owusu, the top UN humanitarian official in South Sudan, in a statement issued Sunday. He did not identify the nationalities of the aid workers or their organisation.
"At a time when humanitarian needs have reached unprecedented levels, it is entirely unacceptable that those who are trying to help are being attacked and killed," said Owusu.
The ambush is the latest of several attacks on aid workers in South Sudan, which is one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. At least 12 aid workers have been killed so far this year and 79 have been killed since civil war began in South Sudan in 2013, said the statement.
Famine has been declared in two counties in South Sudan, where one million people are on the brink of starvation, and there is also a cholera outbreak in parts of the country. But aid organisations responding to both famine and the cholera outbreak have been attacked by armed forces, according to the UN.
The ambush came the day that South Sudan's government declared a unilateral cease-fire and granted amnesty to armed groups who renounce violence.
South Sudan's government agreed to issue the cease-fire in response to pressure from East African countries during a regional summit in Nairobi, according to a joint statement after the meeting over the weekend.
The cease-fire and amnesty was immediately rejected by Mabior Garang, a spokesman for the opposition SPLM-IO party, who called it "silly" and a "non-starter."