South Sudan: Humanitarian situation about to escalate - New violence impedes aid deliveries

The fighting must be stopped immediately in order to protect the aid workers (Press Release)

The escalation of violence between the conflict parties in South Sudan impedes aid deliveries to the needy civilian population. Photo: UN Photo via Flickr

Given the ever-new clashes between governmental soldiers and rebel groups in South Sudan, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) warns about an impending hunger catastrophe in the East African country. “The escalation of violence impedes aid deliveries to the needy civilian population,” reported Ulrich Delius, the STP’s Africa expert, in Göttingen on Tuesday. “In order to prevent mass starvation, the international community must demand an immediate end to the violence. Over Easter, 60 aid workers had to be withdrawn from Jonglei province because their safety could no longer be guaranteed. Prior to this, three South Sudanese employees of the United Nations Food Program had been murdered on their way to a distribution center for relief supplies. According to UN information, about 7.5 million people in South Sudan are dependent on international food aid.

“The World Security Council must make it clear to all conflict parties in South Sudan that attacking humanitarian aid workers will be treated as crimes against humanity, as this can cause a hunger catastrophe,” says a letter the STP sent to Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. 14 aid workers have lost their lives in South Sudan since the beginning of 2017, and a total number of 82 helpers got killed in the country since the outbreak of the civil war in December 2013.

In the two cities of Wau and Pajok, more than 100 civilians got killed during the last two weeks. About 16,000 civilians managed to escape, and many of them sought protection in the UN base in Wau. There are reports about massive ethnically motivated violence in the greater area of Wau, where governmental soldiers carried out targeted attacks against non-Dinka. Following the deaths of two leading Dinka army officers, soldiers had systematically searched the houses of members of the population groups of the Luo and Fertit.More than a dozen civilians were shot. “Anyone who carries out targeted actions against people of a specific population group might be facing charges of war crimes and genocide,” stated Delius. The United Nations had been warning about an imminent genocide for months. “Therefore, the World Security Council must insist on immediate initiatives to resolve the violence and to punish those who are responsible."

Header Photo: UN Photo via Flickr