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UN Workers Under Attack In Southern Sudan

UN Aid Workers Suspend Activities After Coming Under Attack In Southern Sudan

The United Nations today condemned a "deliberate and concerted" attack by armed militia on eight aid workers in southern Sudan that has led to the suspension of humanitarian relief activities in the area.

Eight UN and non-governmental organization (NGO) staff came under "about 20 minutes of intense and sustained" rifle, machine-gun, rocket-propelled grenade and mortar fire from unidentified militia forces last Friday, according to a statement issued by the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan.

The attack occurred as the workers were staying at a temporary compound at the end of their four-day relief mission in Nimnim in southern Sudan's Western Upper Nile region.

The statement said none of the staff were injured in the attack, which damaged tents and aid stores and forced the humanitarian workers and local residents to temporarily flee the area.

Bernt Aasen, UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, said "this direct, deliberate and sustained attack on aid workers is outrageous and intolerable. Attacks on humanitarian workers in conflict situations are war crimes."

He called on the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) to identify and prosecute the perpetrators of the attack.

The UN subsequently relocated the team, which included staff from the UN Children's Fund (<"">UNICEF), the World Food Programme (<"">WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (<"">FAO), as well as a UN security officer and workers from the NGO World Vision International and the relief wing of the SPLM.

The Nimnim area is now off-limits to aid workers from the Operation Lifeline Sudan group, which included the team that came under attack. It means about 30,000 Sudanese living in the area do not have access to basic relief supplies such as soap, blankets and cooking sets, and other planned relief activities - including a mass polio immunization campaign - have been shelved indefinitely.

But the statement added that aid operations are re-starting in the Guit County area near Nimnim after a period of relative peace there. Negotiations are underway in Kenya between the Sudanese Government and the SPLM about ending their civil war.

© Scoop Media

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