South Sudan has released six aid workers who were arrested in January on suspicion of smuggling arms to the country’s opposition, the charity confirmed late on Monday.

The Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) confirmed that its staff who were arrested in South Sudan’s Yei River State on Jan 4 have all been released. The charity said the two staff who were released on Jan. 27 and four others on March 31 are part of a group of six workers who were arrested early this year.

Two of the aid workers are foreigners while four are South Sudanese. However, the Director of Operations for MSF, Brice de le Vingne, said the medical charity is concerned about the incident but is relieved at the release of the four staff members. “We are very concerned about this incident and we are relieved that our colleagues, who were working hard to bring healthcare to people in need, have now been released and can return to their families,” Vingne said in a statement.

The aid workers were arrested on suspicion of transferring weapons to the opposition, an allegation which MSF vehemently denied but the government maintained that the charges against the six aid workers were valid.

The charity said it maintains its commitment to continue its life-saving work in South Sudan. Humanitarian workers in South Sudan have often faced working difficulties in their operations in the famine-stricken world’s youngest nation.According to the UN, at least 79 aid workers have been killed in South Sudan since the beginning of the December 2013 crisis, including at least 12 killed in 2017, and at least eight humanitarian convoys have been attacked already this year.

Source: Xinhua/