A humanitarian aid worker was shot and killed Monday in Upper Nile state in South Sudan, as talks to restore peace in the country resumed in Addis Ababa.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said the aid worker was killed by a militia group that calls itself the Mabanese Defense Forces. The group and deserters from the army have been moving around the town of Bunj, going to humanitarian organizations' offices and asking if they have any Nuer employees, UNMISS said.
Toby Lanzer, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, said in a statement that he was "appalled and saddened" by news of the aid worker's death.
Lanzer expressed concern at the deteriorating security conditions in Maban County, where aid is being provided to 127,000 refugees and their host communities.
"In the past days, violence and harassment of civilians and aid workers – including based on their identity – has increased in the area," he said.
"Such crimes put the humanitarian operation in Maban at risk, jeopardizing the lives of tens of thousands of men, women and children who count on aid organizations for their survival," the head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan said.
In a separate statement, the U.N. said it was concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Bunj and condemned the targeted killing of civilians "by members of this militia."
The U.N. called on the government of South Sudan and the authorities in Upper Nile state - including the SPLA - to do more to protect civilians and "rein in the militia elements before the situation descends into lawlessness."
The United Nations has no military or police presence in Bunj.
UNMISS did not release the name of the slain aid worker.