JUBA – An aid worker attached with MSF South Sudan has been killed in the conflict in Leer County of Unity State.
The aid organization announced Monday that the deceased identified as Peter Mathor Tap who worked with MSF for about 15 years was killed on 10th April while he was off-duty.
“It is with great sadness that MSF confirms the death of Peter Mathok Tap, who had been working with MSF since 2007 in Leer, South Sudan,” it said on Twitter Monday.
“Peter was killed while off-duty on 10th April when fighting erupted in Leer. We send our deep condolences to his family, friends & colleagues,” it added.
In a statement released Tuesday, MSF South Sudan said Peter initially worked as Senior Department Supervisor at the former MSF hospital (which was destroyed twice during the civil war, once in 2014 and again in 2015), and more recently as Nursing Care Provider in one of MSF’s Community Based Health Care (CBHC) facilities.
The statement says Peter who had a physical disability, was shot due to inability to run when the armed group approached.
“As a child, Peter had suffered from polio, which left him with a disability and required him to use a stick to walk. This affected Peter’s ability to run away when the armed aggressors reached the area where he lived.
Federica Franco, MSF Head of Mission for South Sudan said “We are shocked and profoundly saddened by the tragic death of our colleague Peter. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends”.
“We strongly condemn the indiscriminate violence being carried out by armed groups that have killed and injured many innocent civilians in Leer, including those most vulnerable, such as children, elderly and persons with disabilities,” the official added.
Since the latest fighting begun, the MSF clinic in Leer town has received more than 25 gunshot wounded, as well as several other trauma victims, including survivors of sexual violence. With the insecurity resulting in the evacuation of several humanitarian organizations in Leer, the MSF clinic has remained one of the few fully functioning healthcare facilities in the entire county, and the only facility providing advanced emergency care.
Initial assessments report of wide scale destruction, notably in Adok, Pilleny, Thonyor and Touchria, where numerous people were killed, homes were set on fire and properties looted. As a result, thousands of people have been forcibly displaced, including MSF staff.
MSF said “Those displaced are too scared to return home, and with many of them having lost all their belongings, they have little to return to. Many people have sought refuge in the swamps, where they are at risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea as well as malaria.”
“They [attackers] were shooting and everyone ran to the swamp area because we were fleeing for our lives. People were slaughtered, including mothers, youth and young children,” a source who sought anonymity was quoted by MSF. “When we came out, we found the area was burnt, they took the goats, cattle and also looted [property].”
The organization described the phenomena as “Challenging times for the people of Leer, who have previously experienced an endless cycle of violence and multiple displacement.”
The death of Peter brings the tally of aid workers killed in 2022 alone to 8.