U.S. condemns attack on UN World Food Program convoy in South Sudan

The United States said on Friday it was “deeply concerned by the attack on a United Nations World Food Program (WFP) humanitarian cargo convoy in South Sudan this week.” 

“As a result of this attack, an aid worker remains missing and three are injured.  We express our sympathy to the family of the missing aid worker and wish the wounded a full and swift recovery,” said Morgan Ortagus, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson.

She added: “Humanitarian aid workers in South Sudan and throughout the region work under extremely challenging conditions to assist some of the world’s most vulnerable men, women, and children.  This is the second attack on humanitarian cargo vessels in this area in the past two months.  We call on the Government of South Sudan to investigate this attack fully and expeditiously and provide the security necessary to ensure the safety of aid workers who are delivering critical life-saving services and assistance.

“The United States is the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to the people of South Sudan, providing nearly $907 million in humanitarian aid in FY 2020 through UN and NGO partners.  We continue to stand with the South Sudanese people to help address their ongoing humanitarian needs and demonstrate the long-term commitment of the U.S. Government and international community to South Sudan’s stability.”

On Monday, October 5, a World Food Program (WFP) boat convoy carrying food assistance from Bor to Melut and Malakal was attacked near Shambe North. The river convoy consisted of three cargo vessels and a speedboat. The cargo vessels had food assistance and 13 crew aboard.

“One person is missing and presumed killed, while three people suffered gunshot injuries,” the WFP said in a statement on Thursday.

“WFP condemns in the strongest terms any attack on humanitarian workers and contractors, who risk their lives delivering much-needed food assistance to the most vulnerable people.

“WFP calls on all parties in South Sudan for unimpeded humanitarian access, respect for international law and conditions that allow humanitarian workers to carry out their jobs in safety,” the organization said.

“Our thoughts are with the families of the missing crew member, and we wish a speedy recovery to those who suffered injuries,” said WFP Country Director Matthew Hollingworth.

“Their dedication will not be forgotten. We call on the South Sudanese authorities to hold those responsible for this unspeakable violence accountable for their actions.”

The WFP said the food was intended for people displaced after losing their homes and crops to floods.

“Over 800,000 people have been affected by the floods in South Sudan, on top of many months of sub-national violence and years of conflict that caused widespread hunger and malnutrition.

“WFP engages in life-saving and life-changing activities across South Sudan. WFP plans to reach 5 million people with food and nutrition support. WFP uses air, road and rivers to deliver vital food to isolated communities in the most remote parts of the country,” the statement read.

The World Food Program, on Friday, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its fight against hunger around the world.

The Rome-based organization has continued to deliver food to regions ravaged by war and instability even during the coronavirus pandemic.

“With this year’s award, the (committee) wishes to turn the eyes of the world to the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, announcing the award in Oslo.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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