South Sudan Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 04 | 30 April 2018
• Three national aid workers killed and partners suspend operations due to renewed fighting in Unity.
• Seven aid workers released in Lainya County, while ten others are missing outside Yei town in Central Equatoria.
• More than 200 children released by armed groups in South Sudan.
• Over 70 per cent of the civilians returning from displacement find their homes partially or severely destroyed, according to a new study.
• Humanitarian partners are responding to needs in Raja County, Western Bahr elGhazal, where an estimated 74,000 people are facing severe food insecurity.
Aid worker deaths amid insecurity and increasing needs
Three aid workers killed in renewed conflict in Unity
Three national aid workers were killed in April, following renewed fighting in multiple locations of Unity. The aid workers were killed in separate incidents in Rubkona, Mayendit and Leer counties. On 7 April, armed men shot at an NGO vehicle, clearly marked with the Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (CORDAID) logos, while transporting five aid workers along Nhialdiu-Bentiu road. One national staff working for Hope Restoration, a national NGO was killed in the attack. A day later, a health worker was shot dead while fleeing inter-communal clashes near a national NGO health facility, in Lual village, Mayendit County. Later in the month, a third aid worker was shot and killed while returning to check on a health clinic that had been looted in Leer County.
The Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Alain Noudehou, strongly condemned the attacks.
“Aid workers risk their lives every day to provide life-saving assistance to people in need in South Sudan. I strongly condemn the targeting of aid workers and demand that those responsible for these acts be brought to justice,” said Mr. Noudehou. “Our deepest condolences go to the families of the victims and the affected organisations,” he added.
At least 100 aid workers have been killed since the start of the conflict in December 2013; the majority being South Sudanese nationals.
Partners suspend operations as insecurity intensifies
Armed clashes between government and opposition forces erupted from 14 to 18 April in Jazeera, Ding-Ding, (Rubkona County), Koch town (Koch County) and Nimni (Guit County), forcing a number of aid workers to suspend their operations.
A team of aid workers that was drilling boreholes in Ding-Ding was forced to suspend their activities due to insecurity. Fighting in Koch town saw the relocation of nine aid workers from two aid agencies. Hundreds of civilians were reportedly displaced.
On 18 April, a national NGO staff was shot and injured in crossfire in Nimni, while hundreds of civilians fled their homes for safety. Clashes were also reported in Koch town, Koch County, Dablual, Rubkuai and Thaker in Mayendit County, from 18 to 25 April, forcing the relocation of 44 aid workers from multiple agencies back to Bentiu town, Juba and Rumbek. Health, education, nutrition and water, sanitation and health (WASH) activities benefiting thousands of people were disrupted. An unknown number of houses have been burnt to the ground, creating enormous challenges for return and reintegration.
Aid workers released after three weeks in detention
Seven national staff members from South Sudan Health Association’ (SSUHA) - a national NGO, were released on 15 March after being detained by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLA-iO) forces for 20 days. The aid workers were taken captive on 25 March while on mission from Kupera County to Lainya County, to deliver supplies to health centres serving thousands of people in need in Koyoki, Kupera, Limuro and Wuji areas. The aid workers were in good health when they were handed over to a humanitarian partner. Three agency vehicles that had been confiscated and temporarily used by the authorities were returned to the organisation.
The Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Alain Noudehou, called for the immediate and unconditional release of the aid workers and strongly urged all parties to the conflict in South Sudan to ensure that the operating environment is conducive to the delivery of aid. He asserted that free, safe and unhindered access is essential to reach the millions of South Sudanese people in need.
This is a reminder of the dangers that humanitarian workers face in delivering assistance every day. Aid worker security in Africa’s youngest nation remains a key concern, with humanitarians constantly being harassed, intimidated, beaten and killed.
Ten aid workers missing near Yei
Ten aid workers have gone missing near Yei town, the capital of Yei River State, in Central Equatorial region. Their convoy was headed to Tore Payam from Yei town on 25 April to conduct a humanitarian needs assessment. Their whereabouts and well-being remained unknown as of 30 April.
In a statement issued on 26 April, Mr. Noudehou demanded their immediate release without preconditions.
“We are deeply concerned about the whereabouts of these humanitarian workers and are urgently seeking information about their well-being, said Mr Noudehou. “These individuals, UN and NGO staff are here to help the people of South Sudan and should not be targeted. Our colleagues must be released without condition so that their work can continue.”
The missing national staff include one from UNOCHA, two from UNICEF, two from the Association of Christian Resources Serving Sudan, one from Action Africa Help, three from Plan International and one from South Sudanese Development Organization. “I firmly condemn the latest attack against colleagues engaged in emergency humanitarian assistance in Central Equatoria and call on all parties to the conflict in South Sudan to ensure a safe and secure environment, conductive to the delivery of assistance,’ said Mr. Noudehou.
This is the second incident involving an attack on aid workers by armed groups in April alone and the third in the last six months in South Sudan.