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Machar releases aid workers detained in Yei

Dr Riek Machar, SPLM-IO Leader; file photo

Seven aid workers who were held captive by the SPLM-IO in Yei River State have been released on directives of Dr. Riek Machar.

The humanitarian workers are staff of the South Sudan Health Association, a national non-governmental organization that has been operating in the country since 1995.

They were detained since the 25th of last month while they were delivering supplies to health centers in Kupera, Limuro, Wuji and Koyoki.

According to UNOCHA, they were taken by SPLA-IO forces while travelling in a 3-vehicle convoy from Kupera County to Lainya County.

“The seven were released on directives from the leadership and Commander in Chief of the SPLM/A IO Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon,” read a statement by the Deputy Spokesperson of the SPLM-IO, Lam Paul.

The release comes after the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Alain Noudehou, called for immediate and unconditional action.

Last week, the SPLA-IO deputy military spokesman told Eye Radio that their intelligence unit detained the humanitarian workers because they were found to be agents spying for the government.

However, in the statement issued on Sunday, the faction said only two of the seven were discovered to be secret agents of the government deployed to carry surveillance on the I.O controlled area.

“The SPLA IO therefore, calls upon all humanitarian agencies to avoid being infiltrate by the regime so that they (regime) gets easy access to SPLA IO controlled areas.”

They were handed over to the UNOCHA on Sunday morning along the Ugandan border in Koboko.

The statement added that the handover was witnessed by the Ugandan police service.