WHO health worker killed in an attack in Torit County, former Eastern Equatoria State, South Sudan

Mr Louise Mokiri Avito during the meningitis outbreak response in 2008 in one of the villages in Torit County Mr Louise Mokiri Avito during the meningitis outbreak response in 2008 in one of the villages in Torit County

10 February 2017, Juba, South Sudan – It is with sadness that WHO received the shocking news of one more of its employees Mr Louise Mokiri Avito, in Torit, former Eastern Equatoria State. This brings to three the number of WHO employees killed in less than one year as a result of the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.

Mr Avito was shot dead on Thursday, 9 February 2017, at around 7.30pm in Torit, as he was returning from a funeral. The exact circumstance of this attack remains unclear but United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) is investigating the case.  Since July 2016, violent attack in South Sudan claimed the lives of several health workers as WHO and partners ramp up humanitarian response..

Mr Avito worked for WHO as a field supervisor since 1998. He was responsible for ensuring effective health activities including polio surveillance, planning and conducting immunization activities. His loss will affect WHO’s work with in the Greater Torit County on health emergency, eradication of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and immunization until another person is hired.

“This is a very sad day for health workers. We are all deeply saddened by his tragic death”, said Dr Allan Mpairwe, WHO Health Security and Emergency Officer. “He had such a pleasant personality. He was resilient and very dedicated, but most importantly a very honest man, very instrumental in supporting emergency health response activities at the Eastern Equatoria state”, Dr Mpairwe said. I worked with him in Lopa-Lofan, during the meningitis outbreak response in 2008. He was an ideal exemplar of love for humanity, progress for our future, and embracing the discomforts that life has to offer. He left a legacy that must liberate us all in times of uncertainty, he added.

Despite the South Sudanese crisis which erupted in December 2013, the Greater Equatoria region remained peaceful until recently. Health cluster partners estimates over 5.1 million people are in desperate need of health services.

As the conflict in South Sudan escalates and violence continues to spread, the death of humanitarian workers in South Sudan has now become a daily occurrence with no solution in sight.

 “WHO is deeply shocked and dismayed by the death of one of its staff members, Mr Avito. He was a very motivated and devoted staff member. He played a tremendously crucial role within his team, helping hundreds of thousands of people” said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, WHO Representative to South Sudan. “The impact of attacks on health workers negatively affects services for everyday health issues, from preventive services in the community, to primary health care and emergency health services”.

Mr Avito was also a father of 15 children.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti has expressed her sorrow to the sad, tragic news while extending condolences to Mr Avito’s family and the entire WHO country team. She called for the killers to be apprehended and brought to justice.

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For more information please contact:

Dr Abdulmumini Usman, WHO South Sudan Country Representative, +211953333842, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Mr Rhoderick Maniego, +211954936240, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Dr Sylvester Maleghemi, +211 956 779 467, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Ms Jemila M. Ebrahim, +211 950 450 007, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


South Sudan