US aid group says detained South Sudanese staffers freed

Posted March 14

— South Sudanese staffers with the U.S.-based aid group Samaritan's Purse have been freed a day after being detained by "armed personnel," the organization said Tuesday.

No ransom demand had been made, the group's statement said.

Rebels on Monday confirmed that the workers had been "recovered" during fighting with government forces in the Mayendit area of Unity state, where famine recently was declared.

The Samaritan's Purse statement said the staffers were on their way to "a safe location" with help from the U.N. World Food Program. The statement didn't say how many staffers had been detained, and it gave no details about the armed personnel who took them.

"We removed all relocatable staff two weeks ago as it became apparent fighting was going to begin," the statement said. "Those who were detained lived in the Mayendit area."

The famine in Mayendit and Leer counties is the latest crisis in South Sudan's three-year civil war. About 100,000 people are said to be at risk, and aid groups are pleading for access amid multiple restrictions that include a steep new hike in work permit fees for foreigners.

"Samaritan's Purse calls on all parties to stop hostilities and allow immediate full access to distribute emergency food supplies," the group said.


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