Humanitarian Coordinator demands immediate end to attacks on civilians, aid workers

Following a week which saw attacks against both aid workers and civilians, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Eugene Owusu, demanded that parties to the conflict uphold their responsibilities to protect civilians and ensure the safety and security of humanitarians.

“Over the past week, we have received reports of outrageous abuses against humanitarians by both state and opposition actors in Upper Nile, as well as reports of horrific attacks against civilians in Eastern Equatoria,” said Mr. Owusu. “These attacks are reprehensible and unacceptable. I call on those in power to take swift action to end the targeting of innocent people in this conflict and to hold those responsible to account.”

Two serious attacks were carried out against aid workers in Upper Nile since 31 March. In Aburoc, humanitarians were harassed and beaten by members of armed opposition forces, while in Melut, state security officials detained and beat two aid workers before releasing them.

“I condemn these attacks in the strongest terms,” said Mr. Owusu. “I demand that the leadership on both sides investigates these incidents with a view to holding the specific perpetrators to account, as well as ending the targeting of humanitarians in the future. Humanitarians are in this country to save lives. It is beyond reckoning that they continue to be killed, harassed and abused despite our repeated calls for action.”

Elsewhere, in Pajok, Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria, at least 6,000 people have been forced to flee to Uganda and reportedly several dozen have been killed, following an attack by government forces on the town. Thousands more are thought to be sheltering in the bushes in areas surrounding the town, which was estimated to be home to up to 50,000 people.

“I am appalled by the reports surfacing from people fleeing Pajok of their loved ones being killed and their homes being destroyed,” said Owusu. “I implore the leadership in South Sudan to rapidly investigate these allegations and to end all attacks against civilians.”

The humanitarian situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate. More than 3.5 million people have now been forced to flee their homes, including nearly 1.9 million people who are internally displaced and more than 1.7 million who have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries. An average of 2,000 South Sudanese refugees are arriving into Uganda each day, over 62 per cent of whom are children.

Download the press statement here.

For more information, contact the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan:
Frank Nyakairu, nyakairu@un.org / +211 922406012
Guiomar Pau Sole, pausole@un.org / +211 920100411

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