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South Sudan government accuses rebels of hampering humanitarian access

Non-food items distributing to IDPS by the UNHCR workers in Maridi on 4 March 2016 (ST Photo)
June 8, 2018 ( JUBA) - Armed groups are to blame for the obstruction of humanitarian access to civilians in the rebel-held areas, said the South Sudanese presidential spokesperson on Friday.

Ateny Wek Ateny told reporters that aid workers have free access to civilians in the government-controlled areas following directives by President Salva Kiir, but pointed an accusing finger to the rebel fighters.

"The President already issued an order to government officials ensuring unlimited access to humanitarians. There are now few roadblocks in government territories but instead, the rebels are to blame for obstructing humanitarian workers," said Ateny.

"The rebels should give humanitarian access in their areas instead of humanitarian workers talking about the government not granting relief access," he further stressed.

During a visit to the Unity region earlier this week, Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), warned that more civilians are at risk as a result of lack of access and attacks on aid workers due to the upsurge in fighting in South Sudan.

“From what I’ve witnessed and what displaced people tell me, a worst-case nightmare scenario is already on our doorstep. Widows tell me how their villages were burned to the ground, their husbands killed, and they are left with children they cannot feed nor protect,” said Egeland from Unity.

In February UN agencies estimated that unless aid and access were maintained, a record 7.1 million South Sudanese would face ‘crisis’ or worse ‘acute’ food insecurity between May and July. This is equivalent to two out of every three people.