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Wau governor vows unfettered humanitarian access to affected areas

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January 19, 2017 (WAU) – The Governor of Wau State Andrea Mayar Acho on Wednesday pledged to ensure security and facilitate humanitarian access of aid groups to the most affected areas in the area.

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IDPs shelter near the UNMISS base in Wau (IOM/Gonzalez 2016)

The governor made his promise in a meeting with a humanitarian agencies operating in the state led by the head of South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation commission state director Mr. Silvano Udo (SSRC).

Since July 2016, aid workers complain from the increasing bureaucratic constraints and blockages, saying they have very difficult access by road to tens of thousands of affected civilians outside Wau town in Western Bahr el Ghazal.

Acho said giving free access to the agencies was his duty as the state governor, adding he want to see the humanitarian organizations have safe passage to civilians trapped in fighting zone.

“We are keen to address all the difficulties facing the humanitarian agencies, as per the directives from our national government; our role is to facilitate the works of aid agencies in term of providing them a free movement and security protection,” said Acho.

“It is part of my mandate and role to provide you with a free accessibility and protection. I think this is very a clear message and I hope you will understand that message and you will cooperate with me, I don’t have any problem,” said governor.

Acho added the entire people of Wau state including the rebels should take in account that the President of the Republic has already declared an inclusive national dialogue process open for all the South Sudanese political forces to achieve peace and stability in the whole country.

He also disclosed that he asked the local religious leaders to meet them and facilitate the dialogue with them so they can work together to address the problems and bring peace in the state.

“You the various UN agencies, you are free to move anywhere anytime you need through SSRC, please let me know if you have any difficulties," said governor.

Also, Governor Acho called on the UN agencies operating in the state to help the state government to persuade the displaced persons sheltering at the UN protection sites and churches to return to their homes, pointing that the security situation is stable in the state.

The government said the IDPs are in the UN camps because they receive humanitarian aid there, so if they are convinced they can get the same treatment in their home areas and villages they would go back.

“Most of you do not believe why these people are still staying in these camps, simply it is only due to the current economic purpose. But in term of security and protection, Wau is secure," Acho. "There is no reason why people continue to stay in camps,” he wondered.

In December 2016, UN agencies reported an increase in the number of displaced people in Wau, following clashes in Bussere area.

The protected area in Wau remains the most congested UN camp in South Sudan. More than 28,850 IDPs were sheltering on just 134,514 m2 of land, according to the UN reports in at the end of November 2016.

However, Acho warned against spreading meaningless rumours that Wau is not secure, “Tell me in term of security between Wau and Juba, which town is more secure, it is Juba or Wau?” Acho asked.

The governor said he would soon meet with protection sites IDPs management to discuss the return of people back to their home.

On their parts, the UN agencies operating in the region said they will continue to support the entire population in Wau town wherever they are whether they have chosen to stay in the camps or to return to their homes.

(ST)

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