Aid agencies call on South Sudan to protect humanitarian workers


   JUBA, April 30 -- Aid organizations operating in South Sudan on Friday called on the government to ensure the protection of humanitarian workers due to a rise in the number of attacks in the country.
   The South Sudan NGO Forum, an umbrella body of NGOs that provide assistance to the South Sudanese, urged the government to ensure that there is swift, robust, and transparent accountability for perpetrators of such attacks.
   The organizations in a joint statement issued in Juba condemned separate attacks by youth on aid workers on April 24 and April 28 where aid workers were physically attacked resulting in serious injuries.
   "These unacceptable incidents, both citing grievances over local recruitment, follow one of the most dangerous years on record for aid workers in South Sudan in 2020 with a sharp rise in the number of aid workers killed since 2019," the organizations said.
   Carol Sekyewa, South Sudan Country Director at International Rescue Committee, said on Wednesday they are deeply disturbed by these attacks, noting that so far the perpetrators have not been caught and there has been no accountability for those that have carried out attacks.
   "We urge the local authorities to provide a guarantee of staff security so that we can continue to provide life-saving humanitarian services to host and refugee communities in South Sudan," Sekyewa said.
   The NGO Forum statement comes after the UN humanitarian agency said on Thursday that some aid organizations have relocated staff to safer areas and many humanitarian activities have been suspended, including critical assistance in the areas of health and nutrition due to insecurity.
   According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the humanitarian needs of the vulnerable population will intensify if aid workers, many of them South Sudanese, are not able to safely resume their work amid fear of attack by mobs.  Xinhua