Oxfam boss arrested by ‘unknown officers’

Oxfam boss arrested by ‘unknown officers’
Adil Al-Mahi, Country Director of South Sudan Oxfam International (photo credit: The Tower Post)

Unidentified security officers have allegedly arrested the Country Director of South Sudan Oxfam International Adil Al-Mahi, his deputy has said.

Al-Mahi was picked by unknown security personnel when he left the office on Thursday evening last week. 

Oxfam South Sudan Deputy Country Director, Juliet Moriku Balikowa told The City Review yesterday that the whereabouts of Mr. Al-Mahi and the reason for his arrest were yet to be ascertained.

“We don’t have any of that information [of his whereabouts], what we are doing now is to establish the fact of the matter and to ensure he is safe and well,” Moriku said.

Efforts to reach the Police Acting Spokesperson, Brig Gen. James Dak over the issue were unsuccessful.

A Sudanese national, Mr. Al-Mahi, has been heading Oxfam International South Sudan since September 2020.

Oxfam, a British confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations that focus on alleviation of global poverty, currently delivers humanitarian assistance to thousands of people affected by the conflict in South Sudan.

Mr. Al-Mahi’s arrest marks the latest in several onslaughts aimed at aid workers in the country, which have jeopardized the delivery of relief food as organizations shy away amid insecurity concerns.

Since 2013, at least 126 workers have lost their lives with 9 and four humanitarian workers killed in 2020 and 2021 respectively in the course of delivering assistance to thousands of people in need across South Sudan.

Last month, government authorities in Yei River County rescued two of the five abducted aid workers when the WFP convoy was ambushed on road.  One driver was killed and two others wounded by the suspected National Salvation Front (NAS) during the incident.

Recently, the United Nations called on the government to prioritize the protection of aid workers during a meeting with Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng at the sideline of the UN General Assembly Summit last month in New York.

“Honored to meet with South Sudan VP Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior during UNGA. We discussed the importance of progress on the peace agreement, and I stressed the need for political incuriosity and protection of humanitarian workers,” said Linda Thomas Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the United Nations in a tweet in September.

The Japanese Government, through its embassy in South Sudan in August also called on the government to ensure the safety of aid workers who have dedicated their lives to assist the vulnerable population.

Japanese Charge d’ affairs Mitsuhiro Toyama told the government that attacks on the aid workers were unacceptable adding the issue needs to be addressed to enable humanitarian workers to execute their role without hindering.

“I would like to point out the counter issue on the safety of the humanitarian workers in South Sudan, the violence against humanitarians is unacceptable and Japan strongly believe the issue should be addressed,’ said Toyama in August this year.