Israeli aid workers airlifted from South Sudan

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Three Israeli aid workers were airlifted from South Sudan amid intense fighting following a coup attempt.

The workers were rescued by the United Nations, along with members of other international NGOs, and are on their way back to Israel, the group’s director, Shachar Zahavi, told the Times of Israel on Thursday.

Zahavi said the group intends to return to South Sudan as soon as the situation calms down.

Earlier this week, IsraAID suspended its operations in the country and went on lockdown after Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan announced that he had put down the coup attempt by soldiers loyal to former Deputy President Riek Machar, whom Kiir dismissed over the summer. Intense fighting followed the coup attempt.

South Sudan became an independent country in July 2011.

IsraAid runs programs in the South Sudanese capital of Juba focused on gender, social development and security sector reform. South Sudan and Israel have some defense and trade ties. In recent weeks, IsraAid also has been active in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

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