The Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim in South Sudan, Mr. Peter Van der Auweraert, has condemned in strongest terms the attack on humanitarian workers and assets in Pibor, Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA). On 18 January, several armed attackers broke into an international NGO compound in Pibor. At least one humanitarian worker was beaten and required medical attention. The attackers targeted the NGO looking for cash and other assets and stole valuables. "Such attacks while humanitarians are providing critical services to most vulnerable people are beyond comprehensible. The whole humanitarian community is united in its call for immediate end of these repeated acts of violence against civilians and humanitarians," stressed Mr. Van der Auweraert.
The incident follows the killing of two aid workers in the Abyei Administrative Area and another aid worker in Jonglei State earlier this month. "The ongoing violent attacks against humanitarians inadvertently hamper the delivery of much needed life-saving support to millions of people affected in times of escalating conflict and exacerbated humanitarian situation," stated Mr. Van der Auweraert. "The direct victims of those attacks are the humanitarian workers, almost invariably South Sudanese nationals. The indirect victims are the most vulnerable in the communities humanitarian workers serve. They see the services on which they rely to survive interrupted and, as was the case in some instances in the past, suspended. Only if there is a safe and conducive environment for all civilians with unrestricted access for humanitarian actors, humanitarian assistance can reach the most vulnerable people," he added.
South Sudan is one the most dangerous places for aid workers, with nine humanitarian workers killed in the line of duty and 450 incidents reported in 2022 and already three humanitarian workers killed in 2023. "Protecting humanitarian workers and civilians is a duty of the authorities. The humanitarian community is united in calling on the authorities to do all they can to stop attacks on humanitarians and civilians. But that alone is not enough. I urge the authorities to bring the perpetrators swiftly to justice.
Ending impunity and ensuring accountability for crimes under South Sudanese criminal law and, where applicable, international humanitarian law, is critical to protect humanitarians and civilians alike and, ultimately, to bring long-term peace to South Sudan," concluded Mr. Van der Auweraert.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of OCHA South Sudan.