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South Sudan foreign ministry denies blocking entry of UN personnel

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The UNPOL and Military components of the UNMISS worked tirelessly to ensure the protection of civilians and the UN staff during the recent fighting that swept through Juba 11 July 2016 (UNMISS PHOTO)

August 3, 2016 (JUBA) - The ministry of foreign affairs in South Sudan has on Wednesday denied reports that immigration and security personnel have been blocking entry into the country of United Nations personnel on arrival at Juba international, describing the accusation as "false."

Joseph Ayok Anei, undersecretary at the ministry said the country was not blocking entry, but was simply evaluating security situation.

“This is not true. They are false reports. The government is not denying entry of any foreign nationals to the country. Foreign nationals are coming and leaving normally. What happened and this is what we did as the government of a sovereign state, which operates within the rules, regulations and laws of the country, is that we evaluated the security situation in the country in the light of recent events and we gave out instructions to officials at immigration department and other entry points in the interest of peace and stability,” explained Ayok.

He said the directive was part of safety measures to ensure personal security and protection of foreigners coming into the country by giving the government any opportunity to know where they would be staying once in the country.

He continued: “The objective of these new directives have been falsely interpreted. The objective was for the good of the foreign nationals coming into the country, especially those who don’t know much the country. We felt it was wise to give three days for those coming into the country so as to enable them get sufficient information and time relating to the arrangements of where they would stay once in the country.”

“It would also be an opportunity for the government to know where they would be staying for security purpose, because their security is a responsibility of the government,” he added.

The official said because of the necessity, they gave the directives to anybody wishing to come to South Sudan to “know and to observe and comply.”

He explained that the directives were not targeting personnel of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and other UN agencies.

“This is the outcome of a series of discussions and meetings we have had with senior management of the UN’s country team,” he said.

But while Ayok denies blocking of the UN personnel, several sources with United Nations and agencies said in a series of interviews that some of their colleagues returning from leave and official travels through Nairobi, Kenya, and Entebbe, Uganda, have had to negotiate their return, some of whom out of desperation, have had to pay immigration and security personnel.

Those who failed to pay were either deported or denied visas, leaving them with no other options than accepting to return from where they came on the next available flight.

(ST)

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