National, News

South Sudan deadliest country for aid workers-report

By Charles K Mark

South Sudan is the world’s deadliest place for relief workers, according to a United Nations report.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it has recorded 40 attacks on aid workers so far this year, the highest number of attacks against aid workers.

It said the attacks left 22 aid workers dead and 36 injured.

“Too many humanitarians, most of them South Sudanese nationals, have lost their lives while trying to alleviate the suffering around them,” Acting Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Mr. Peter Van der Auweraert said.

“As we mark World Humanitarian Day, we honour their memory and pay tribute to their dedication and selflessness,” he added.

Across South Sudan, humanitarian workers, mostly national staff, face severe constraints while trying to reach people in need: armed violence, bureaucratic impediments, operational interference, targeted violence, and threats, and looting of assets.

The UN explained that most security incidents were recorded in Jonglei State and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, Upper Nile State, Unity State, Central Equatoria State, Western Bahr El Ghazal State, and the Abyei Administrative Area.

The report indicated that between February and June 2023, criminal activities, particularly ambushes, looting of commercial and humanitarian trucks and insecurity between Jonglei State and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area hindered the pre-positioning of supplies ahead of the rainy season, and forced a temporary halt in some humanitarian operations.

The humanitarian report also indicated that incidents against aid workers continue even as humanitarian needs increase and funding lags. Some 9.4 million people in the country – more than two-thirds of the population – need humanitarian and protection assistance.

Early this year, the UN said Humanitarians require US$1.7 billion to target 6.8 million of the most vulnerable people.

The UN revealed that as of 16th August, the humanitarian response plan is funded only at 43.8 percent.

The conflict in neighbouring Sudan has triggered an influx of over 220,000 refugees, returnees, and third-country nationals into South Sudan since April.

The overcrowding at border points, transit centers and the Protection of Civilians site in Upper Nile State is likely to increase tensions and conflict over access to basic services and resources, according to the report.

The vulnerable returnees, particularly women, children, and the elderly, will be further exposed to protection and serious health risks.

“The lack of a conducive environment for humanitarian workers significantly affects vital life-saving support to the most vulnerable, especially now as new crises put additional strain on the already fragile humanitarian situation,” said Mr. Van der Auweraert.

H said that the people of South Sudan and those trying to help them deserve better.


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