Three aid workers from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were killed amid fighting between government forces and rebels from the National Salvation Front (NAS) in the village of Isebi (Morobo County; Yei River state) on Sunday, October 27. Two other workers were kidnapped; their whereabouts remain unknown as of Thursday, October 31. The incident prompted the organization to suspend Ebola screening activities in five locations along the border with neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to the prevailing insecurity.
According to the UN, this is the first case of aid workers being targeted in South Sudan since 2018. At least 115 aid workers have been killed from 2013 to 2019. Cases of kidnappings have, however, been on the rise in the country since March 2017, with oil and humanitarian workers particularly targeted.
South Sudan has been wracked by years of political, interethnic, and intercommunal violence - exacerbated by border and oil revenue disputes with Sudan. Following the 2011 signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that gave the country its independence from Sudan, the predominantly north-south conflict gave way to a pattern of internal violence. Since December 2013, the country has experienced an intermittent civil war waged between the government of President Salva Kiir and the SPLA on one side, and the former Vice President Riek Machar and the SPLA-IO on the other. The conflict has continued despite international support for state-building and peacekeeping - including the 12,000-strong UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), deployed since 2011. The number of South Sudanese citizens displaced by the conflict currently stands at some 3.5 million.
Individuals in South Sudan are advised to remain vigilant for militant activity, adhere to instructions issued by their home government, and ensure security guidelines and advice are followed.
Many Western governments advise against nonessential travel to South Sudan due to ongoing violence against civilians, international staff, and aid workers. Border regions, including Abyei, should particularly be avoided. If travel is necessary, ensure that proper security protocols are in place.
Copyright and Disclaimer