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EU decries costs imposed on humanitarian goods in South Sudan

The European Union (EU) and 9 donor countries on Sunday criticized the overburdening costs imposed on humanitarian goods destined for South Sudan amid a worsening humanitarian situation.

 In a joint statement issued in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, the embassies of Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, decried the illicit and unacceptable costs imposed on donor governments, United Nations agencies, and their implementing partners who are seeking to provide humanitarian assistance in South Sudan. 

They urged the revitalized transitional government of national unity (R-TGoNU) to immediately halt recent actions taken to impose the costs, which are hindering delivery of humanitarian assistance to millions of displaced and vulnerable people.

It noted that the current costs include the ePetroleum Accreditation Permit, customs fees and charges, the electronic cargo tracking note (ECTN), the laboratory test on food rations, and the security escort fee.

“Such attempts are contrary to international practice and to South Sudanese law, which clarifies that the United Nations, UN specialized agencies, diplomatic missions, or other international donors and their contractors, grantees, and implementing partners in South Sudan are exempt from excise duties, customs duties and fees, and other taxes, charges, and fees on goods and services directly related to diplomatic missions or donor-funded projects,” it said.

It noted that when the transitional government imposes such costs, it is diverting life-saving aid from South Sudanese people in need. 

“It is the obligation of the transitional government to reduce the costs and risks faced by those seeking to provide humanitarian assistance to its people,” it said.

The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in South Sudan, Anita Kiki Gbeho recently reiterated calls on the government to abolish taxation on UN imports into the country to ease humanitarian response.

South Sudan is currently hosting about 629,546 people who fled violent conflict since April 15, 2023 between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Prior to outbreak of conflict in neighboring Sudan, the youngest nation was already dealing with about 2.2 million displaced people in need of assistance.

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