JOHANNESBURG, July 14 – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has evacuated its workers and dozens of patients from Maiwut county in South Sudan’s oil-producing Unity state, as the security situation continues to deteriorate.
The ICRS said the decision followed ongoing military hostilities between pro-government forces and rebels loyal to the country’s former First Vice-President, Riek Machar, who is currently residing in South Africa.
ICRC’s communications coordinator, Robin Wauodo, said fighting in recent weeks had forced the organisation to evacuate its staff for safety, the Sudan Tribune reported on Thursday.
The airlift of staff and patients from the area to Fangak in Jonglei State began last week.
“We had to withdraw the team last week starting on Thursday because of the situation in that part of Upper Nile,” Wauodo explained.
However, the Red Cross said it would resume its activities in the area when the security situation improved.
Meanwhile, Juba conceded that its forces had launched offensives to take control of Pagak, a stronghold of rebels loyal to former First Vice-President Machar.
Daniel Awet Akot, a military adviser to President Salva Kiir, said on Thursday that the military offensive was a result of the rebels failing to observe the declared ceasefire.
According to the UN, about 5,000 civilians, have been forced out of their homes in Pagak.
The head of the UN mission in South Sudan said thousands of South Sudanese civilians were fleeing to neighbouring Ethiopia as government troops advanced towards Pagak.
Approximately 25 aid workers had also been forced to relocate from Pagak and surrounding areas due to increased insecurity.
The latest crisis in the South Sudanese conflict began in mid-December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar of a coup attempt.
Since then, tens of thousands of people have died and over two million have been displaced.
– African News Agency (ANA)