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Sep 13, 2:40 PM EDT

Red Cross suspends work in vast region of South Sudan

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- The Red Cross is suspending operations in a vast area of South Sudan after one of its workers was shot dead while delivering aid, the aid organization said Wednesday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it has suspended work in the Equatorias region, or roughly a third of the country, after driver Lukudu Kennedy Laki Emmanuel was killed Friday by unknown attackers in Western Equatoria.

The suspension affects more than 22,000 people amid civil war.

South Sudan is one of the world's most dangerous places for aid workers, and the United Nations says the situation is worsening. That complicates efforts to reach an estimated 6 million people, or roughly half the population, said to be severely food insecure.

The U.N. says at least 84 aid workers have been killed since 2013, including at least 17 this year. Most have been local workers.

Hundreds of incidents of aid restrictions have been reported in South Sudan since January, including attacks on humanitarian compounds and the looting of supplies and convoys, according to the U.N. humanitarian agency. About 300 aid workers have been relocated since January because of security issues.

Both the government and rebels in South Sudan's civil war have been accused of restricting aid access. The conflict that began in December 2013 has killed tens of thousands and sent about 2 million people fleeing the country.

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