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IOM chief condemns attack on humanitarian convoy in war-torn South Sudan

March 16, 2017 (JUBA) – The Director General of International Organisation for Migration (IOM), William Lacy Swing has condemned the 14 March attack on a humanitarian convoy, which left two people dead and three others injured in South Sudan.

“I unequivocally condemn the attack on IOM staff, health workers and civilians, who were assaulted during a lifesaving humanitarian mission in Yirol East county of South Sudan,” said Swing.

The incident reportedly occurred while a convoy was returning to Yirol from a field mission on 14 March and one of the vehicles was ambushed by unknown armed gunmen. Among the injured was an IOM health officer who sustained a wound, but in a stable condition.

“This tragic attack on aid workers and civilians is appalling. The assault took place in an area of South Sudan in dire need of assistance due to a deadly outbreak of cholera. In a country overwhelmed by the huge lack of basic necessities due to conflict, famine and health epidemics, these types of attacks undoubtedly harm the ability of humanitarian partners to provide assistance to millions in need of lifesaving aid,” added Swing.

The identity and motivation of the attackers remain unknown.

According to IOM, a joint team of health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) team of 12 had been deployed to Yirol East county, in central South Sudan, on 17 February to provide assistance to communities affected by a cholera outbreak that began in early February, with more than 300 cases and 10 deaths reported to date.

The agency said it is responding to the emergency needs of millions of people affected by the crisis that erupted in December 2013. Over 7.5 million people, aid agencies say, are in need of humanitarian assistance this year, including nearly 5 million facing severe food insecurity and 1.8 million displaced internally.

(ST)