South Sudan’s rebels released aid workers, warn against unauthorized movements

Col. Lam Paul Gabriel. Photo: File

Juba, April 30, 2018 (SSNA) — South Sudan’s main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) has released Humanitarian personnel and warned that any an authorized movement of aid workers in areas under the armed movement control is not acceptable.

In a statement released Monday, SPLA-IO deputy spokesman Col. Lam Paul Gabriel said the detained humanitarian workers entered SPLA-IO area without informing the rebels, saying the workers have now been released after the rebel leadership ordered their release. Col. Lam also blame the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) for keep sending its workers without notifying the rebel humanitarian wing.

“It [has] been confirmed this afternoon the 30/04/2018 at about 2:50PM that, the ICRC in coordination with Lt. Gen. Wesley Welebe and the Division 2B Commander Maj. Gen. John Mabieh Gaar picked up the Aid workers and are safely on their way to Juba. This marked the second time aid workers have been detained and released from Yei River state due to the same problem this month,” The statement reads in part.

“UNOCHA has time and again been sending Aid workers to the SPLA IO controlled areas without prior notice to our Humanitarian department for clearance. The SPLA IO on several occasions advised UNOCHA field coordinator to coordinate with our humanitarian wing by providing notice of their movements and activities in advance, unfortunately, it is not forthcoming,” the text further explained.

Col. Lam stated that UNOCHA should not keep sending its workers to rebel-controlled areas, warning that the situation could lead to a “misunderstanding.” Lam also refuted a social media post which claimed that rebel leader Riek Machar ordered an execution of Gatwech Tap Nyuot. He explained that Gatwech went to Akoba in a cover of being an ICRC worker while he is a government agent and that he was arrested by the SPLA-IO upon his arrival in Akobo.

The humanitarian workers disappeared last week while on a mission from Yei to Tore.

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