Three UN food agency workers abducted in South Sudan

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The WFP staff were delivering aid to the country’s 2.5 million food insecure people. Photo: UNICEF/Kent Page

Three UN food aid workers have not been seen since they disappeared in South Sudan at the beginning of the month, World Food Programme (WFP) said Wednesday.

The agency staff were travelling in a marked UN convoy carrying supplies for thousands of conflict-affected people, according to WFP.

The worsening security situation has forced WFP to suspend operations in parts of the country.

Daniel Johnson has more.

The three male staff were travelling from Malakal to Melut in Upper Nile State when witnesses say they got caught up in intercommunal fighting.

Despite intense efforts to reach them since they went missing on 1 April, there's been no news.

World Food Programme says it's "deeply concerned" about them amid increased harassment of aid workers.

In October last year WFP worker Mark Diang was abducted at gunpoint in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile State.

From South Sudan's capital Juba, here's World Food Programme's George Fominyen:

"The disappearance of our three colleagues has led to increased concerns regarding the staff security in the area…we continue to follow up with authorities in Juba, Malakal and Akoka but have not been able to get any information and fear for the safety of our staff."

Because of worsening security on the ground, WFP has suspended aid to Akoka and Fashoda counties.

In a statement the agency says it will resume operations "as soon as we have the necessary assurances that our staff and partners can work safely".

In South Sudan WFP reports that 2.5 million people started the year unsure about where their next meal was coming from.

That number is expected to increase as the lean season begins in May.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1'14"

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