[ACNS, by Kenyi Dube in Juba] The national youth coordinator for the Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS) has died after being shot while travelling to Yei. Thousands of young people gathered at the house of Joseph Kiri yesterday (Monday) to pay their respects for the youth worker and evangelist, who was killed just days after the Primate of South Sudan, Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, said more needed to be done to turn a peace deal on paper into peace on the ground.
In addition to his work with the ECSS, Joseph Kiri worked for a church humanitarian organisation Across. He was shot near the village of Limbe, a few kilometres away from Yei, when unknown gunmen targeted his NGO vehicle. He was travelling to Yei to deliver field reports for Across, where he worked as a nutrition officer.
The Executive Director of Across, Elisama Wani Daniel, said that Kiri died instantly after being shot in the chest as the vehicle was sprayed with bullets. His driver, Maliamungu, managed to escape and ran to a military base at Limbe. Soldiers rushed to the scene of the attack and recovered Kiri’s body, which was being transferred to the capital Juba, today.
In a Tweet, the Primate of South Sudan, Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, said that he and his wife, Mama Joyce, were “deeply saddened to hear of the passing of the Provincial Youth Coordinator, Joseph Kiri, in an ambush on Lainya – Yei road yesterday.
“Our prayers are with his family. We ask all parties to respect the ceasefire.”
The Provincial Secretary of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, John Augustino Lumori, described Kiri as “a talented, sound and vibrant youth”. He described his death as “a very big loss to the entire Episcopal Church of South Sudan.”
Many senior church leaders have condemned the barbaric act done to innocent civilians in a humanitarian car. They have urged all those holding guns countrywide to respect civilians who are unarmed as well as humanitarian agencies.
Recently a United Nations peace-keeping soldier from Bangladesh was killed in a similar act, after armed men shot from the bush on humanitarian conveys. The shooting was condemned by the UN humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan.
Despite the signed cessation of hostilities in Khartoum between the parties to the conflict, there has been little sign of the parties showing their commitment to what they have signed.
Additional reporting by Gavin Drake in London