Heads of Mission Concerned About Increased Threat Facing Aid Workers in South Sudan
Joint Local Statement on Increased Threat Facing Humanitarian Aid Workers
The European Union Delegation, all Heads of Mission of France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland express deep concern regarding recurrent reports of high numbers of incidents in South Sudan where national and international humanitarian aid workers are hindered, threatened, injured, and in some cases killed.
In 2020 alone up to 14 humanitarian workers have lost their lives and this continues to make South Sudan one of the most dangerous places to work as a humanitarian. We strongly condemn the October 5 attack on a clearly identified WFP humanitarian aid convoy carrying much-needed food assistance for South Sudanese people affected by severe food insecurity and flooding.
These incidents are not only a violation of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement but also contravene the UN Security Council Resolution 2417(2018) on Conflict and Hunger and must be acted upon. Attacks on civilians, aid workers, facilities and supplies are in breach of International Humanitarian Law.
The October 9 Nobel Peace Prize statement announcing WFP as the recipient highlights South Sudan as a country of major concern, noting that “In countries such as South Sudan, the combination of violent conflict and the (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a dramatic rise in the number of people living on the brink of starvation…..The link between hunger and armed conflict is a vicious circle. We will never achieve the goal of zero hunger unless we also put an end to war and armed conflict.”
In the face of increasing violence and conflicts and growing food insecurity, the COVID-19 pandemic and the dire situation the extensive flooding has caused the people of South Sudan, the Heads of Mission urge the R-TGoNU and all parties, now more than ever, to:
• provide a safe environment for humanitarian workers in South Sudan and tackle the violence and access impediments recurring in the country;• investigate all reported incidents and hold the perpetrators accountable;• uphold their commitment to deliver on the R-ARCSS and specifically Chapters II and III, through actions that allow principled humanitarian response grounded in humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence;• remove formal and informal bureaucratic obstructions, including the numerous fees and taxes on the humanitarian response that delay and prohibit life-saving assistance and reduce the funds available for assisting those in need.
We have the highest respect for all humanitarian workers who put themselves at risk to assist millions of people with food, water, health care, shelter, and protection. We would like to take this opportunity to re-emphasize the Statement of Principles and Actions (Humanitarian Donors Nov 2019) and our collaboration and our support to stand with and serve the people of South Sudan.
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