Killing of 6 aid workers in South Sudan an "appalling and pointless loss": UN

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An armed individual in the town of Pibor, in Jonglei state. Pibor has seen violent clashes and confrontations that have resulted in displacement as well as destruction of livelihood and property. (File photo) OCHA/Cecilia Attefor

The killing of six aid workers in an ambush in South Sudan has been described by the head of the UN Mission there (UNMISS) as an "appalling and pointless loss of life," that must be thoroughly investigated.

David Shearer, who is also UN Special Representative to the world's youngest country, called on Sunday for an immediate and complete ceasefire between South Sudan's warring parties.

Matthew Wells reports.

According to reports, the six staff belonged to a national non-governmental organization, whose vehicle was ambushed in a government-controlled area on the road between the capital Juba, and Pibor, on Saturday.

Their bodies were found by other members of the convoy who were travelling behind them.

UNMISS head, David Shearer, condemned the attack, and offered his condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the dead.

"It is utterly reprehensible, not least because they were dedicated to helping the people of South Sudan. This happened in an area controlled by the South Sudan government. There should be no impunity when it comes to the killing of aid workers."

Mr Shearer said the killings should not go unpunished and too many young men were being armed without training on all sides of the conflict, involving rival military forces along ethnic-lines, stretching back to 2013.

Around 80 aid workers have been killed since then.

In the past two months, there has been a sharp increase in attacks, according to UNMISS, "mirroring a rapid deterioration in the security and economic situation of the country."

The UN Humanitarian Affairs Office (OCHA) said in a statement that Saturday's fatalities represented the highest number of aid workers killed in a single incident since the conflict began.

Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Eugene Owusu, said such attacks not only put aid workers lives at risk but also "threaten the lives of thousands of South Sudanese who rely on our assistance for their survival."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'32"

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