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UN condemns threats against aid workers in South Sudan 

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN humanitarian agency on Thursday condemned threats against aid workers in South Sudan which it said may jeopardize humanitarian operations in the country.

Acting Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Mahimbo Mdoe, condemned recent threat letters issued against aid workers in at least three locations in South Sudan: Bor in Jonglei, Torit in Eastern Equatoria and Mankien in Unity.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that aid workers, who place themselves at risk each day to help others, are being subjected to discrimination, threats and violence,” Mdoe said in a statement issued in Juba.

He said aid workers are working tirelessly across South Sudan with the sole aim of saving lives and alleviating the suffering of civilians caught-up in conflict and desperate circumstances.

Mdoe called on all authorities to ensure the safety and security of humanitarians in the areas they control across the country and to work to prevent future threats against them.

“I am grateful for the steps already taken by authorities in Bor, Torit and Mankien to address the recent threats against aid workers in these areas,” said Mdoe.

He said humanitarians must be able to reach people in need throughout South Sudan, regardless of their place of origin, ethnicity, tribe or any other characteristic.

“I call on all those with influence to reiterate their respect for aid workers, and to take swift action to prevent threats such as these arising in the future,” he said.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than three years of conflict that has taken a devastating toll on the people.

According to the UN, South Sudan has become a hostile environment for aid workers to operate. In March, gunmen killed six aid workers on a road linking the capital Juba to the eastern state of Boma.



Senior UN official for peacekeeping operations due in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Head of UN for peacekeeping operations is due in South Sudan next week for a series of meetings with political leaders and humanitarian actors, the UN mission said on Wednesday.

A statement from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations will also hold talks with the internally displaced people living in Protection of Civilians’ sites.

“He will visit the capital, Juba, as well as the northern towns of Malakal and Bentiu, where UNMISS is protecting more than 145,000 people living in Protection of Civilians’ sites,” the mission said.

It said Lacroix will advocate the cessation of hostilities across the country, the importance of an inclusive political solution for ending the current conflict, and greater cooperation with the UNMISS and humanitarian agencies.

UNMISS has an authorized peacekeeping force of up to 17,000 troops from 54 Troop-Contributing Countries and up to 2,100 police personnel, including individual police officers, formed police units and corrections officers.

Its mission is to work with the people of South Sudan to protect civilians and to build durable peace.


UN decries increased violence against aid workers in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN humanitarian agency has decried increasing violence against aid workers in South Sudan, with 100 humanitarian access incidents being reported in June, the highest number recorded in any month so far in 2017.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest report released on Saturday evening that although there was a reduction in the number of conflict and insecurity incidents impacting humanitarian access in June, with no relocations of aid workers carried out during the month, partners reported a substantial rise in incidents involving violence against personnel and assets, from 29 cases in May to 46 in June.

“At least 24 humanitarian compounds, including offices, residences, and warehouses, were broken into countrywide in June, resulting in the looting of humanitarian supplies and theft of staff member’s personal belongings,” the UN said in its Humanitarian Bulletin.

It said violence against aid workers and assets included compound break-ins, looting of humanitarian supplies, and physical assault.

The UN reports over 80 aid workers have been killed since outbreak of conflict in December 2013, and have continuously condemned attacks on humanitarian workers by armed groups besides blockading of badly needed aid to over 6 million South Sudanese on the verge of starvation.

According to the OCHA, government soldiers reportedly forcibly entered an NGO compound in Budi County, Eastern Equatoria, assaulted guards and commandeered the organization’s vehicle on June 24.

A group of youth forcefully on June 28 entered an NGO compound, barricaded the entry and physically assaulted staff members in Ajoung-Thok, Pariang County, Unity.

“Humanitarians reported that nine out of the 14 community volunteers and health workers, who had been detained by armed forces in Guit County, Unity, on June 6 remained in detention as of July 13,” said the UN.

It said talks with the authorities for the release of the workers are ongoing.

The UN said several organizations faced challenges transporting cash out of Juba for their humanitarian operations, with the authorities requesting new and additional paperwork.

OCHA said violence against humanitarians also increased along main road routes where at least 20 incidents of robbery or ambush of vehicles that were traveling to undertake humanitarian assessment and response missions, and to pre-position and deliver vital humanitarian supplies were recorded in June.

“Such incidents were particularly prevalent in Lakes, Western Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria and Central Equatoria. In Yei, armed men reportedly ambushed an NGO vehicle at Limbe on Lainya-Yei road about 15 kilometres from Yei town on June 7,” it said.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than three years of conflict that has have taken a devastating toll on the people.

According to the UN, South Sudan has become a hostile environment for aid workers to operate. In March, gunmen killed six aid workers on a road linking the capital, Juba to the Eastern state of Boma.

Under international Humanitarian Law, intentional attacks against humanitarian relief personnel may constitute war crimes.



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