Aid workers in South Sudan blocked by government

July 1, 2017

South Sudan’s government says it may withhold permission for aid workers to go to some rebel-held areas on security grounds, the president’s spokesman said on Thursday, after the UN complained aid convoys were being blocked.

Adisplaced family carrying their belongings walks in search of refuge towards the village of Aburoc, South Sudan, last week. A new report by Amnesty International says South Sudanese forces burned, shelled and ransacked homes between January and May, killing civilians and forcing thousands from the Shilluk ethnic minority to flee. (Photo: Sam Mednick/AP)
“We cannot allow them (aid workers) to go and then be hit by wrong elements against peace and then the government will be blamed,” said the spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny.

“It is about safety for the humanitarians. It is to be coordinated, and the government can only clear the humanitarian workers when it is safe.”

South Sudan’s four-year-old civil war has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than three million. Earlier this year, the UN briefly declared a famine in the northern rebel stronghold of Unity state.

Ateny’s comments follow UN complaints that the government has blocked aid deliveries to rebel-held areas in the southern Equatoria region over the last two months, but allowed aid to reach government-held towns.

Since May, four aid convoys were prevented from reaching 30 000 displaced civilians in rebel-held areas in Central Equatoria state’s Kajo Keji county, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said in a statement on Wednesday.