NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 2 – One of the four Kenyans brutally killed in South Sudan last month reluctantly went back to the country after a fruitless job hunt in Kenya.
Samson Mbugua Chege had just gone back to a country he had worked and lived in for five years before returning to Kenya in November of 2016.
After a frustrating job search, he secured a teaching job in Pebor, 340 kilometres north east of Juba, through GREDO, an NGO contracted by UNICEF.
As family and friends gathered at the cargo section of JKIA waiting for the bodies to arrive, his brother Kimani Mbugua says Chege had just gone back to South Sudan when the family received the news.
“He had talked to one of our brothers when he arrived in Juba and was due to travel to Pebor,” says Mbugua.
But Chege’s journey – and life – was cut short when the car they were using from Juba was ambushed by unknown attackers.
All the 10 occupants, including South Sudanese nationals were shot and killed.
Among the aid workers killed in the team was David Mbugua who had been contracted to work in a construction site, and had previously worked in South Sudan for nine years, according to his cousin, Anne Nyokabi.
“He called us on Saturday and told us they were to fly to Pebor, but later on we learnt they went by road,” said Nyokabi, who has also worked in South Sudan for five years.
The families say they have not received adequate information or support from the government, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs directing them to work with the NGO to repatriate the bodies, which arrived on Saturday afternoon.
The United States issued a travel and stay warning to Americans in South Sudan early January.
“Aid workers, including U.S. citizens, have been the targets of shootings, ambushes, violent assaults, harassment and robberies. All U.S. citizens in South Sudan should have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance, and should carry medical evacuation insurance,” states the advisory posted by the US Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Reuters reports at least 79 aid workers have been killed since President Salva Kiir’s government forces clashed with former deputy Riek Machar’s men.