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NGO body condemns violence on aid workers in South Sudan

May 1, 2021 (JUBA) - South Sudan NGO forum has strongly condemned the increase in threats and incidents of aggression against humanitarian workers that are multiplying across the country.

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A group of women poses for a photo after receiving food ration at Ulang County, in Upper Nile State (Photo: WFP/ Gabriela Vivacqua)

On April 24, aid workers were attacked inside an NGO compound in Jamjang County in Ruweng Administrative Area when youth groups entered the perimeter, physically attacked staff and seriously injured some of them.

Separately, unconfirmed numbers of humanitarian workers were reportedly physically assaulted by community members, sustaining serious injuries requiring hospital treatment, following a meeting between humanitarian agencies, the United Nations and local community groups in the Eastern Equatoria State capital, Torit.

Continued violence and a lack of action not only impact on the humanitarians delivering services but can lead to the collective suspension of urgently needed assistance, putting the most vulnerable South Sudanese further at risk, according to NGO forum.

“We are deeply disturbed by these attacks. Thus far, the perpetrators have not been caught and there has been no accountability for those that have carried out this attack. We urge the local authorities to provide a guarantee of staff security so that we can continue to provide life-saving humanitarian services to host and refugee communities in South Sudan,” said Carol Sekyewa, IRC Country Director, South Sudan.

The NGO body said it routinely issues guidance to NGOs to follow regulations of the South Sudanese labour law, including the recruitment of at least 80% of their workforce from the South Sudanese population, irrespective of where in the country they are originally from.

It, however, stressed that ultimatums by local groups to recruit based on ethnic or local geographic lines cannot be tolerated and are in breach of the South Sudan Labour Act and humanitarian principle of non-discrimination.

Meanwhile, South Sudan NGO forum urged the Government of South Sudan at all levels to ensure that there is protection of NGO staff and assets from direct attacks and criminality that are on the rise in the country, and to ensure that there is swift, robust, and transparent accountability for perpetrators of the attacks.

The NGO body further urged all community groups to address grievances through local authorities and desist from any act of violence against humanitarians.

"Continued violence against aid workers in any form cannot be allowed to continue with impunity," it noted.

(ST)