JUBA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in South Sudan is again demanding the safe release of its abducted staff member Mark Diang, who was taken at gunpoint from the Malakal airport on 16 October by a group of men wearing plain clothes.
“It’s been more than a month since Mark was seized, and we still have no word of his whereabouts or well-being,” said WFP Country Director Joyce Luma. “We are gravely worried about Mark’s safety, and we will not rest until he’s been found.”
WFP is reassessing its security arrangements in parts of South Sudan, to ensure that its staff can operate safely. This requires temporarily restricting operations in some areas while seeking renewed security assurances from authorities so emergency teams can continue providing urgently needed food assistance in communities isolated by conflict.
“Mark’s disappearance – and the lack of information about what has happened to him – is having a chilling effect on our colleagues here in South Sudan, many of whom now fear for their own lives,” Luma added. “To bring urgently needed food assistance to hungry people affected by conflict, our staff are working in difficult and dangerous conditions, but we cannot also ask them to risk their lives to do so.”
Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese civilians rely on WFP food assistance to survive as the conflict has disrupted food production and food markets.
WFP has been working nonstop since Diang’s abduction to secure his safe return and reunite him with his family. The agency demands that Diang’s captors release him unharmed, and urges the South Sudanese authorities to facilitate his release and bring those responsible for his disappearance to justice.
WFP reminds all parties to the conflict of their responsibility, under international law, to protect the lives and safety of humanitarian workers.
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food in emergencies and working with communities to build resilience. In 2013, WFP assisted more than 80 million people.
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For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org):
George Fominyen, WFP/Juba, Tel. +211 922 465 247
Challiss McDonough, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. +254 20 762 2179, Mob. +254 707 722 104