National, News

Taxes hamper humanitarian aid delivery

By Staff writer


Humanitarian partners in South Sudan have called for urgent removal of recently imposed taxes and charges on aid supplies imported into the country.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) made the appeal, in press release, on Sunday evening.

UN Mission in the country, reported last week that authorities were holding up fuel tankers over the tax dispute, jeopardizing the delivery of millions of dollars of aid during a humanitarian crisis.

More than 60,000 people have already been affected after the United Nations was forced to pause life-saving airdrops of food assistance as fuel runs low.

UNOCHA said that this number will increase to 145,000 by the end of May, should the measures remain in place.

Acknowledging the assurances by many members of the government of National Unity that humanitarians are exempt, Ms. Anita Kiki Gbeho, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, urges for action.

She said quick government action would prevent humanitarian operations by the United Nations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from coming to a standstill.

“We have already had to pause airdrops, which is impacting families in the hardest-to-reach locations within the context of already pared-back humanitarian operations” Gbeho stated.

“We call on the Government of South Sudan to uphold all agreements with humanitarians, including our NGO partners, and immediately remove new taxes and fees so that we can continue to support people in need.” She continued.

Since February, the Government of South Sudan has imposed a series of new taxes and charges at border crossings and in the country.

Although the Government has assured that these taxes will be removed, there has been no written commitment to date.

UNOCHA further noted that these measures would add US$339,000 monthly to the cost of food assistance and the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) operations.

It added that this additional cost is enough to feed over 16,300 people for a month.

“It is vital that our limited funds are spent on saving lives and not bureaucratic impediments,” underscored the Humanitarian Coordinator.

Businesses had protested against the new tax and diplomatic missions who are major humanitarian donors had also called its imposition on UN and other aid operations illicit and unacceptable in a statement on Sunday.

Last month, the United Nations estimated that about 7.1 million of South Sudan’s 12.4 million people would experience crisis-level hunger during the April-to-July lean season.

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