(Juba, 19 August 2016): On World Humanitarian Day, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Eugene Owusu, has called for an end to impunity for violence against aid workers in Africa’s newest nation. “Attacks against aid workers are unacceptable and violate international humanitarian law,” said Mr. Owusu. “I have said this repeatedly since I took up this position, and yet humanitarians in South Sudan continue to be attacked, threatened and harassed.”
Since the conflict in South Sudan began in December 2013, at least 59 aid workers, most of whom are South Sudanese, have been killed. In the first seven months of 2016 alone, there were more than 470 humanitarian access incidents reported and humanitarian compounds, supplies and convoys were attacked and looted across the country, including in Pibor, Leer, Malakal, Raja and Juba. During the July fighting in Juba, millions of dollars’ worth of aid was looted, and a compound housing humanitarians was stormed by armed men in uniform, with one aid worker killed and others raped and beaten.
“The horrific events that took place in Terrain on 11 July are emblematic of the immense risks that humanitarian staff in South Sudan face on a daily basis,” said Mr. Owusu. “It is imperative that those responsible be swiftly held to account. I welcome the commitment expressed by His Excellency the President to have the recent events fully investigated and the culprits punished”. This tragedy must be a turning point. There should never, ever, be an attack on a humanitarian in South Sudan again.
World Humanitarian Day is marked every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and to mobilize people to advocate for a more humane world. In South Sudan, humanitarian organizations have reached more than 2.8 million people with vital humanitarian assistance and protection in South Sudan in 2016. “Humanitarians in South Sudan are solely here to assist people in need,” said Mr. Owusu. “Endangering them threatens the lives of the millions of people in South Sudan who rely upon humanitarian assistance and protection for their very survival.”
In 2016, humanitarian needs have continued to grow as a result of violence, displacement, hunger and disease. Horrendous atrocities have been committed against civilians, including reports of sexual violence. “The suffering of civilians in South Sudan must be brought to an end,” said Mr. Owusu. “Humanitarians must be able to reach all people in need, including in the places hardest-hit by conflict, and all those with the power to stop the fighting must act now.”
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