The United Nations migration agency, the International Organization for Migration (IMO), on Wednesday, announced it has suspended Ebola screening services after three of its aid workers were killed in South Sudan during clashes between government forces and National Salvation Front (NAS) rebels, reported Reuters.
“The IOM volunteers, one female, and two males were caught in a crossfire during clashes that broke out” in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria region, IOM said in a statement on Wednesday.
The statement added that two other male volunteers suffered non-life threatening injuries, one of whom is recovering from a gunshot wound. Furthermore, a female volunteer and the son of the murdered female aid worker were also abducted during the attack. Their whereabouts still remain unknown.
The Ebola aid volunteers were working at Ebola screening points in border areas between South Sudan, Uganda, and DRC, where an ongoing outbreak of the virus has killed thousands of people since August 2018.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleagues and we extend our heartfelt condolences to their families and friends,” said Jean-Philippe Chauzy, the IOM chief of mission in South Sudan.
IOM Director-General Antonio Vitorino also expressed great pain and revulsion. He appealed that humanitarians and civilians should never be subjected to such heinous acts of violence.
Attacks on aid workers by armed forces operating in South Sudan have been frequent since the conflict erupted in the country after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. The civil war has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being killed, while a large number of them have fled their homes.
According to the UN’s humanitarian agency, at least 115 aid workers have been killed since the start of the conflict.
In DRC, an ongoing outbreak of the haemorraghic fever has already killed thousands of people.