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ICRC to resume operations in S. Sudan’s Equatoria region

JUBA — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Friday that it will gradually resume operations in South Sudan’s western Equatoria region, which were suspended following the killing of its staff last month.

A South Sudanese national, who worked as driver with ICRC, was shot on Sept. 8 while delivering relief assistance.

The ICRC said since the shooting, they have carried out only life-saving activities, such as medical evacuations for the wounded.

“Since the tragic incident, we have received assurances and security guarantees and now feel confident to gradually restart to our activities in the Equatoria region,” said Francois Stamm, ICRC’s head of delegation in South Sudan.

“At the same time, we renew our call to all parties to the conflict to respect the neutrality of humanitarian workers and the Red Cross. Any attack on our staff and other humanitarian workers is unacceptable and seriously hinders the delivery of much-needed humanitarian assistance,” Stamm added.

The activities of the ICRC in the Equatoria region include distribution of seeds and tools to communities, visits to detainees in prison, and medical evacuations.

According to the UN, South Sudan has become a hostile environment for aid workers. Since the outbreak of civil war in the East African country in 2013, more than 80 aid workers have been killed, including 18 this year alone.

Refugees from South Sudan wait for relief materials at a refugee camp in Sudan’s White Nile state near the border with South Sudan on May 17, 2017. (Xinhua/Mohamed Babiker)

Under international humanitarian law, intentional attacks against humanitarian relief personnel may constitute war crimes.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than three years of conflict that has taken a devastating toll.

The peace pact signed in Addis Ababa in 2015 under intense international pressure was shattered again following renewed violence between rival government and opposition troops in the capital Juba in July 2016.

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