JUBA, South Sudan’s peace monitors called on warring parties to the conflict to step up efforts to protect aid workers who are working diligently to serve the society’s most vulnerable.

Attacks on humanitarian aid workers are not only against the ceasefire agreement which was signed in Ethiopia in December 2017, but are also against international humanitarian law, the Joint Monitoring & Evaluation Commission (JMEC) said in a statement issued in Juba to mark the World Humanitarian Day.

“JMEC reminds the Parties to the Agreement that they have a duty to ensure that aid workers in their midst are not targeted, their safety and security is guaranteed at all times,” the statement said.

According to the UN humanitarian agency, 12 aid workers, mostly South Sudanese, have been killed in the world’s youngest nation in 2018 alone.

Since the conflict began in December 2013, at least 109 aid workers have been killed in South Sudan.

In the statement, the JMEC called on the warring parties that ensure that hindrances to access the vulnerable and displaced population are cleared to facilitate safe humanitarian operations.

In the recent past, the peace monitors said, aid workers in South Sudan have been targeted, threatened, abducted, killed, and aid access obstructed, in blatant violations of what the ceasefire accord was intended to achieve.

The oil-rich South Sudan has been torn apart by war since 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

The civil war has displaced more than 4 million South Sudanese internally and externally, and more than 7 million others, half of the country’s population, risk starvation, according to the UN.