WV aid workers killed in Darfur battle's crossfire

Michael Arunga
Jul 6, 2013
©2006 Jon Warren/World Vision
Millions of people were forced from their homes because of a militia terror campaign in Darfur in 2006. Recent fighting in the South Darfur region has claimed the life of two World Vision staff members.

A second World Vision staff member has died from injuries sustained Thursday from a grenade explosion when fighting erupted among armed groups near the World Vision compound in Sudan's Darfur region.

"It is unfortunate that we today lost Sabil Mansour," says Simon Nyabwengi, the organization's director in Sudan. "We are praying for his family, as well as the loved ones of Ali Ibrahim, who was killed Thursday. Sabil died at noon and will be buried later this afternoon."

Another employee injured in the fighting was airlifted Saturday to Khartoum, the Sudanese capital city, for treatment. International staff members were also evacuated to the capital.

"The fighting near our office that we have seen in the last few days — injuries and deaths of colleagues — has been a harrowing experience," says World Vision staff member Venant Tumwine.

Venant, who was in the guest house at the time of the grenade attack, described it as "traumatizing." Fighting raged between armed groups just outside the compound.

He praised several World Vision national staff members who risked their lives during the fighting to take the injured to a local hospital and guide international staff members to the more secure United Nations compound.

A United Nations official told Reuters the U.N. had cancelled a regular flight from Khartoum to Nyala for security reasons, and its staff had to be moved to a bunker.

Venant said the situation was “desperate” at Nyala Teaching Hospital, where the injured staff were initially taken. “They are currently dealing with an overwhelming number of people,” says Venant.

“This is a tragic reminder that we work in places where there is daily risk to humanitarian aid workers. It’s a great loss that speaks to the unwavering commitment of World Vision employees who strive to make children’s lives better, in spite of danger. Our thoughts and prayers are with the mourning families, and our injured colleagues,” said Dave Toycen, president and CEO of World Vision Canada.

World Vision has suspended programs throughout South Darfur — the southern part of the country that borders newly independent South Sudan — affecting more than 1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). Programs included are food aid, health facilities, water and sanitation, and Child-Friendly Spaces in several IDP camps.

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