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EU concerned over threats facing aid workers in S. Sudan

October 19, 2020 (JUBA) - The European Union (EU) delegation have expressed deep concerns regarding recurrent reports of high numbers of incidents in South Sudan, where national and international humanitarian aid workers are hindered, threatened, injured or in some cases killed.

Non-food items distributing to IDPS by the UNHCR workers in Maridi on 4 March 2016 (ST Photo)

The joint statement issued Tuesday came from heads of mission from France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Canada, United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

“We strongly condemn the October 5 attack on a clearly identified WFP humanitarian aid convoy carrying much-needed food assistance for South Sudanese people affected by severe food insecurity and flooding,” partly reads the statement.

These incidents, it said, are not only a violation of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement but also contravene the UN Security Council Resolution 2417(2018) on Conflict and Hunger and must be acted upon.

“Attacks on civilians, aid workers, facilities and supplies are in breach of International Humanitarian Law,” stressed the statement.

Citing the increasing violence and conflicts and growing food insecurity, the COVID-19 pandemic and the dire situation the extensive flooding has caused the people of South Sudan, the heads of mission urged the government and all parties to among other things, provide a safe environment for humanitarian workers in South Sudan and tackle the violence and access impediments recurring in the country.

The diplomats further appealed to the government to investigate all reported incidents and hold the perpetrators accountable, uphold their commitment to deliver on the Revitalized Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, and specifically Chapters II and III, through actions that allow principled humanitarian response grounded in humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence.

This year alone, at least 14 humanitarian workers have reportedly lost their lives and this continues to make South Sudan one of the most dangerous places to work as an aid worker.

(ST)