Grief as bodies of Kenyan aid workers killed in South Sudan arrive home

There were emotional scenes at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Saturday as family and friends received bodies of the Kenyan aid workers killed in South Sudan a week ago.

The employees of Grassroots Empowerment and Development Organisation (Gredo), a non-governmental organisation funded by Unicef, were ambushed while travelling from Juba to Pibor, a town in the Eastern part of South Sudan last month.

The three bodies of the aid workers arrived at JKIA at 1pm after a requiem mass at Tearfund near Juba hospital.

Among those who received the bodies included Gredo Programme Director Jaffar Mbugua.

Mr Mbugua told the Sunday Nation that the three Kenyans; Samsom Mbugua Chege, David Wainaina Mbugua and Joseph Wanjau Njaaga, had just left the country to be employed in the organisation.

“We moved in a convoy from Juba to Pibor, a town in the Eastern part of South Sudan where they were killed,” he said.

The Kenyans were among six aid workers who were ambushed and killed by unknown gunmen in South Sudan last week.

The body of the fourth Kenyan killed in the attack, Sunday Nation learnt, would be brought to the country by road.

Ms Ann Nyokabi Karanja, a cousin to Mr Mbugua, said that she was living with him in South Sudan before she returned to the country recently.

When he came back last December, he said that he had been offered another job by GREDO and left the country in February.

Last Saturday, he had called the family and told them that he would be flying to a town called Pibor but they later learned they went by road.

She added that her cousin had lived in Southern Sudan for nine years.

Mr Kimani Mbugua lost his brother, Mr Chege, who was contracted by the NGO as an English teacher in the war- torn nation.

Mr Kimani said that he had called to tell them that he was travelling from Juba to a town called Pibor. That was the last time they heard from him.

On Monday, they got a call from the NGO to confirm that he was among the four who had died.

According to UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha), the incident presented the highest number of aid workers killed since December 2013 when the South Sudan conflict started.

Reports indicate that 79 aid workers have been killed since December 2013.

Last week, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed said the Kenyan Embassy in Juba and the Embassy of South Sudan in Nairobi will facilitate repatriation of the bodies of the aid workers back home.

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