U.N. agency pulls staff from parts of South Sudan due safety fears

Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:59pm GMT

By Umberto Bacchi

ROME, April 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A U.N. agency said on Thursday it would pull staff out of some conflict areas and resort to costly helicopter aid deliveries due to heightened safety risks in famine-affected South Sudan.

Serge Tissot, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in South Sudan, said the agency was forced to act after the killing of three aid workers last week.

Violence against aid workers is increasingly common in oil-rich South Sudan, which is suffering the world's first famine for six years.

Since the civil war began, 82 have been killed.

The conflict in the world's youngest nation erupted when the president fired his deputy in 2013, sparking a confrontation between two of the country's largest ethnic groups.

Since then, the conflict has broadened and fragmented, drawing in a number of smaller ethnic groups and dividing some of the larger ones.

"The number of persons being killed since the beginning of the year is too high. We cannot continue like that," Tissot told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.

Last week, three men working as porters for the U.N.'s World Food Programme were killed in Wau city, bringing the toll of aid workers killed this year to 15, Tissot said.   Continued...

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