The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said Thursday they have withdrawn 30 humanitarian aid workers in the wake of recent renewed fighting in Aburoc area of Upper Nile region.
The head of UNMISS David Shearer said that they were forced to withdraw 30 aid workers following outbreak of fighting on Wednesday which has put thousands of civilians at risk as government troops fight to dislodge rebels from the northern town.
“We are still unclear about exactly what is happening on the ground in terms of whether the fighting is ongoing or likely to carry on. What is important is for both parties to pull back, because there are a number of civilians there (Aburoc) that humanitarian organizations would have been supporting,” he said in Juba.
“I have been there and visited that area and the overwhelming number of them are women and children and older people. So, I would like the warring parties to pull back and allow those people to the safe sanctuary that they deserve and they need,” he said.
There are about 10,000 people including women and children left in the restive Aburoc area located along the Nile River banks.
In May the UNMISS forces were temporary deployed there to help with delivery of humanitarian aid following fighting between warring factions.
Meanwhile, Shearer also disclosed that South Sudan’s worsening humanitarian crisis and peace deal revival efforts by the East African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) will be discussed at the ongoing 72nd UN General Assembly in New York.
He disclosed that the meeting will also highlight the importance of ending impunity for attacks against civilians and humanitarian aid workers, adding that the number of aid workers killed in South Sudan this year totals 18 following the recent killing of a driver working with International Committee of the Red Cross in Central Equatoria.
“We hope for solidarity of purpose between the UN, African Union and IGAD for those organizations to agree a steady commitment to reach political settlement, and support revitalization of the peace process. I anticipate that the discussion will seem to run plans for the upcoming IGAD revitalization forum in Addis Ababa,” he added.
Shearer also said that the ongoing national dialogue will also be raised in New York. The UN has already provided financial, logistical support besides bringing in a number of experts to train and advise the steering committee of the national dialogue.
“The UN sees the national dialogue as positive step in the overall pursuit of peace, as well as an opportunity to inject new life into the 2015 peace agreement. However, for the national dialogue to be successful and enable free discussion and bring parties together, the cessation of hostilities is important,” he said.