NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The United Nations’ most senior humanitarian official in South Sudan denounced on Wednesday the killing of a Slovakian nun who was working as a doctor in the country, where violence is hampering efforts to relieve widespread hunger and sickness.
Sister Veronika Racková is the 54th aid worker to be killed in South Sudan since violence erupted in the world’s youngest nation in December 2013, the United Nations said.
“I am deeply saddened by this senseless act,” Eugene Owusu, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Violence against humanitarian workers and humanitarian assets is categorically unacceptable and must stop.”
Aid workers in South Sudan have been hit by a surge in violent crime, particularly robberies, which the United Nations has said is hampering their life-saving work.
Racková was shot in the waist on the night of May 15 while driving an ambulance back from a medical center where she had been delivering a baby.
She died in hospital in neighboring Kenya five days later.
Civil war broke out in South Sudan in 2013 following a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, killing thousands and forcing more than 2.3 million people to flee their homes.
Many displaced people are hiding in bushes without access to food, clean water or medicines.
Under international pressure, the two leaders signed a peace deal in August, and Kiir re-appointed Machar as vice president and named a new “national unity” cabinet in April.
Racková, 58, had lived in the southern town of Yei, 150 km (90 miles) southwest of South Sudan’s capital, Juba, since 2010, according to the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, of which she was a member.
The government has arrested three soldiers in connection with the shooting, local media said.
Three people were injured on April 25 when a rocket propelled grenade hit a U.N. compound in the northern town of Bentiu, which is home to over 100,000 displaced people.
Reporting by Katy Migiro; Editing by Katie Nguyen; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.