AMREF has announced, with deep shock and sorrow, the death of Dr Alemayehu Seifu, AMREF Country Director for South Sudan.
Dr Alemayehu, 46, was shot dead by unknown assassins on the evening of Saturday, January 14, at the gate of his house in Malakia area, on the outskirts of the capital city, Juba. The killers made off with his car and other personal belongings. The government of South Sudan immediately launched investigations into the incident. The vehicle Dr Seifu was driving was found on the Yambio-Juba road on Sunday afternoon with one occupant, who was arrested by police.
AMREF staff and Board members were informed of Dr Seifu’s death by the organisation’s Director General, Dr Teguest Guerma. “This is a very sad moment for the entire AMREF family and we stand in solidarity with Alemayehu's family and AMREF South Sudan staff during this very difficult moment,” she said. “We are working with the government of South Sudan on the matter to handle the situation and will keep you informed as we receive more information.”
Dr Guerma has assured AMREF staff in South Sudan that AMREF is making efforts to strengthen security measures for them and AMREF employees working in other countries.
Dr Seifu was appointed AMREF Country Director in South Sudan in January 2011, after serving as Deputy Country Director in Ethiopia, a position he held since September 2007.
Prior to joining AMREF, Dr Seifu, a medical doctor who held a Masters Degree in Public Health, worked with the World Health Organisation (WHO) as regional surveillance coordinator in Ethiopia Country Office, CARE International and Amhara Regional Health Bureau, Ethiopia. He is survived by a widow, Mrs Amsalework Tesfaye Seifu, a son Samuel Alemayehu, 15, and a daughter Betlehame Alemayehu, 12.
Messages of condolence have been pouring in from all over the world from colleagues and friends who knew and worked with Dr Seifu. In South Sudan the Ministers of Health both at State and Republic level visited AMREF staff and conveyed their condolences. Other messages of condolence were received from the South Sudanese Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Information.
Dr Seifu’s body was flown to Ethiopia on Sunday evening for burial on Monday at his home 100km from Addis Ababa City. AMREF was represented at the burial on Monday by Ms Mette Kjaer, Head of Programme Management, AMREF South Sudan M&E Officer Mr Arizi Primo and staff of AMREF Ethiopia led by Country Director Dr Joao Soares.
AMREF has assigned Dr Joseph Lipua, South Sudan Programme Manager, to run the office as arrangements are made for appointing an acting Country Director. Mr Steve Gikunda from AMREF headquarters has been sent to Juba for support and assistance. Gikunda worked in South Sudan for two years (2007-2008) as programme coordinator and is well versed with AMREF operations in the country.
“This is a very difficult time for us all in AMREF and I thank everybody for the solidarity you have shown,” said Dr Guerma.