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Africa

2012-01-17

AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The killing of the coordinator of AMREF in South Sudan is probably due to the consequence of a robbery which degenerated into murder

Juba (Agenzia Fides) - "We have learnt that the local police have arrested a person found driving the car that AMREF had removed from our manager. We do not have information about its investigations and interrogations", said Paola Ferrara to Fides, communications manager of the NGO AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation) Italy. On January 15, Alemayehu Seifu, Director of AMREF's medical assistance programs in South Sudan, was killed by gunmen on the outskirts of Juba, the capital of the country.
"Alemayehu Seifu’s funeral was held yesterday. We are still in shock and our thoughts go first to our coordinator’s family, as well as how to manage our activities in the meantime, since the killing of Seifu has created a great void", said Paola Ferrara.
The possibility of other hypotheses as well as the robbery which degenerated into murder, about Dr. Seifu’s death, the responsible for the communication of AMREF says, "For now we are at the level of perception. Tension in Juba is not perceived, but one lives in the context of a post-war Country, where there are many interests, including economic. There are several businessmen from around the world in search of contracts because South Sudan is a young Country yet to be discovered. This of course has little to do with AMREF, which has been operating for more than 30 years in southern Sudan, where it is well known and respected. We do not believe, therefore, in a targeted action against our organization. The death of our co-ordinator may therefore be a crime gone wrong. The rules for humanitarian aid workers in case of robbery establishes that one should not oppose any resistance. Alemayehu Seifu was a person of great experience, so we do not know what happened".
Seifu was a doctor from Ethiopia, says Paola Ferrara, a well respected person who attended the training center for doctors, nurses and midwives which has been operating for several years in Maridi in West Equatoria. He likewise kept in touch with the Government of the newborn State, especially with the Ministry of Health.
In past weeks in different areas of South Sudan clashes several deaths were reported related to land and ethnic conflict. "After 20 years of civil war one cannot expect that the entire Country is suddenly pacified and that everything is in order", stresses Paolo Ferrara. "But in Juba one can feel the population’s excitement for the hard-won freedoms. The Country is yet to be built: from the health care system to the judiciary, the school. One must keep in mind that the state budget is only $ 5 billion a year, so the government must give priority to certain sectors over others. This is why we work hard on education, which currently is not among the priorities of local authorities " concludes the communications manager of AMREF Italy. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 17/01/2012)

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