Humanitarian aid hit by rising violence in South Sudan: NRC

Villages burnt down in Gandor in the violence

By Okech Francis

Rising violence in South Sudan is affecting provision of humanitarian assistance with aid workers having to flee from the conflict areas, the Norwegian Refugee Council said.

In the last two weeks, warehouses with food aid for thousands of people affected by floods have been looted by armed groups in areas that are now out of reach for aid workers, NRC said in an emailed statement.

The warehouses managed by NRC in Mirmir and Padeah, have been attacked and looted in at least four incidents over the last two weeks, depriving at least 23,000 people in desperate need of aid, it said.

The attacks, the agency warned, come at a time of rising violence in the country in which humanitarians are increasingly harmed and their facilities damaged as they try to help those most at risk.

This month two humanitarians were killed in separate incidents and branded vehicles shot at.

“The sharp rise in violence has forced our aid workers to flee with their families, forcing us to suspend our work in several areas,” Kennedy Mabonga, NRC’s Country Director in South Sudan said in the statement.

“Witness accounts that reached us speak of untold atrocities being committed against civilians, as well as widespread attacks on aid workers. We also fear that more of our warehouses will be attacked depriving even more people in desperate need of aid.”

NRC said more than 8 million people in South Sudan will need humanitarian assistance in 2022, including due to a worsening food security situation in which more than half of the country will have acute needs.

The violence which began in mid-February is blamed on armed youths in the areas of Koch, Leer and Mayendit.

Several villages in Leer and Mayendit have been plundered and burnt.

The attacks and looting of humanitarian aid are unacceptable and severely limit the ability of aid workers to deliver assistance to the people who need it most, NRC said.

“At a time when South Sudan is facing unprecedented humanitarian needs, every bag of food stolen from our warehouses is directly snatched from a family that desperately needs it,” Mabonga said.

“We call on those involved in the violence, whether perpetrating it or encouraging it, to stop immediately,” he said.

“We ask the government of South Sudan and local authorities to investigate these incidents with the utmost urgency and seriousness, to prevent any further attacks on aid workers and to ensure that we can reach the most vulnerable people with aid.”

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