Israeli aid workers trapped in South Sudan fighting

Several Israelis working for IsraAid are among the foreign nationals caught in the heart of the violence in Juba, South Sudan’s capital.

Israeli humanitarian aid workers of the IsraAid organization have been trapped in their compound in Juba, as the fighting ensues right around them.

“IsraAID’s team has built a secured place inside the compound in case the rebels breach the compound. While bombs were directed at another compound nearby and totally destroyed it, yesterday six foreign aid workers were kidnapped as they tried to leave their compound to try and buy more food and supplies,” IsraAid Founding Director Shachar Zahavi wrote in a letter to the media.

“Just a day ago, the hotel next to IsraAID’s compound was destroyed by rockets fired by rebels aiming into the city. In front of IsraAID’s compound, a row of tanks and local soldiers are trying to protect the foreigners and the local civilian population. Currently, our staff, in partnership with our counterparts in the UN and the International Non-Government Agency, are building an evacuation plan.” he added.

IsraAID’s activities in South Sudan include building the capacity of service providers working with vulnerable communities, especially women and children; accompanying local service providers in their efforts to provide direct sustainable assistance to these communities and accompanying the local actors in their efforts to design, implement and evaluate their own programs to tackle the most pressing social and health challenges affecting the most vulnerable groups.

“When the situation calms down, IsraAID will be sending an extended team back to South Sudan and help this young new country flourish by continuing our work in health… to help those in one of the world’s most dangerous countries,” Zahavi vowed.

Looming Civil War?

Embassies and aid organizations in South Sudan were trying to evacuate staff from the capital, Juba, on Tuesday as a precarious calm settled over the city following several days of deadly clashes.

“Several hundred people have already been killed, including civilians seeking refuge. Some of the civilians killed were reportedly targeted based on their ethnicity,” the UN special adviser on preventing genocide, Adama Dieng, said in a statement Tuesday.

South Sudan’s government has said at least 272 have been killed, including 33 civilians, in fighting that broke out Thursday night with gunfire between opposing army forces that raised fears of a return to civil war.

While the UN United Nations said the cease-fire in Juba appeared to be holding, it was “hugely worrying” that the fighting appeared to have spread outside the capital, the UN human rights office in Geneva said.

The UN said about 36,000 people have been displaced since the fighting began last week and called the humanitarian situation “grave.” Aid groups warned about the lack of clean water for the tens of thousands of people sheltering in various sites around Juba, as water tankers have not been able to make deliveries.

The fighting in Juba has severely threatened a peace deal signed last year to end a civil war that had killed tens of thousands since late 2013. The agreement brought the country into a transitional coalition government in April.

By: World Israel News Staff and AP