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UN sends security team to Sudan, following attack

UN refugee agency sends security team to south Sudan following fatal attack

A security and operations team from the United Nations refugee agency is heading to southern Sudan to assess the situation after Wednesday’s attack on an agency post in the town of Yei in which a local guard was killed and an Iraqi staff member and a second local guard seriously wounded.

Non-essential UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) staff in Yei are scheduled to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, today for debriefing on the traumatic incident, which High Commissioner António Guterres said underscored the difficulty the agency faces in south Sudan as it tries to create a sustainable environment for returning refugees after two decades of civil war.

Meanwhile the two wounded men have been evacuated by air from southern Sudan’s main city of Juba to a Nairobi hospital where they are now in a stable condition, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva today.

“The UNHCR staff member evacuated - an Iraqi national - was shot three times in the abdomen during the attack and underwent surgery last night after arrival in Nairobi. He had previously undergone surgery in Juba to stabilize his condition before being medevac-ed to Nairobi,” he said.

The guard suffered a bullet wound to the leg requiring surgery during the attack by two armed intruders, one of whom was killed while the other was arrested.

Mr. Guterres is sending a team from the agency’s Emergency and Security Service to assess the situation on the ground. Separately, Assistant High Commissioner for Operations Judy-Cheng Hopkins and the director of UNHCR’s Sudan-Chad operations, Jean-Marie Fakouri, will go to Yei, Mr. Redmond said.

There are 350,000 refugees from South Sudan in neighbouring countries and some 4 million internally displaced people, uprooted by 21 years of civil war between Government and rebel forces that ended in a peace accord in January 2005.

UNHCR, along with other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, has been working since then to prepare communities to receive returnees, building or rebuilding schools, hospitals, vocational training centres and water points.

Last week the agency launched a $63.2-million supplementary appeal for the operation. So far it has received $8 million. The appeal noted that security remained a concern in many parts of the south because of inter-ethnic tensions and rivalries between various armed groups.

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