(Juba, 28 February 2013) The humanitarian community in South Sudan has been delivering lifesaving assistance to the civilian population, mostly women and children, affected by recent violent events in Jonglei State. To date, it has responded to the needs of over 23,000 people in Akobo County who have been affected by violence in Walgak on 8 and 10 February. It is also assisting 19,000 civilians in Pibor County whose lives have been at risk due to inter-communal violence and hostilities between the army and non-state armed actors in the past months. During my recent visit to Akobo and Pibor, I met communities who are living in fear of what may happen over the coming weeks. I am deeply concerned about the increasing threats to civilians in Jonglei.
I urge the Government of South Sudan to reinforce its ongoing efforts to strengthen law and order and hold to account those who are responsible for committing crimes and putting civilian populations at risk. I have been informed of attacks on humanitarian actors and the seizure of humanitarian assets and commodities. This must stop. I call on all armed actors to respect their obligations under international law to ensure that civilians are spared from the consequences of military engagement. Armed actors must distinguish between civilians and those directly involved in hostilities, regardless of their ethnicity or location.
Civilians seeking assistance and protection from violence must be allowed to move freely in line with their own judgment. The provision of impartial, neutral and independent humanitarian action must be respected by all armed actors, and the rapid and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid facilitated to those in need, wherever they may be.
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