April 8, 2017 (JUBA) – The warring parties to the conflict in South Sudan should uphold their responsibilities to protect civilians and ensure the safety and security of humanitarians, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, Eugene Owusu said.
- Deputy head of UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Eugene Owusu (YouTube Photo)
“Over the past week, we have received reports of outrageous abuses against humanitarians by both state and opposition actors in Upper Nile, as well as reports of horrific attacks against civilians in Eastern Equatoria [state],” said Owusu.
“These attacks are reprehensible and unacceptable. I call on those in power to take swift action to end the targeting of innocent people in this conflict and to hold those responsible to account,” he added.
Two serious attacks were carried out against aid workers in Upper Nile state since 31 March. In Aburoc, humanitarian workers were reportedly harassed and beaten by members of the armed opposition forces (SPLM-IO), while in Melut, state security officials detained and beat two aid workers before they were released.
“I condemn these attacks in the strongest terms," said Owusu.
“I demand that the leadership on both sides investigate these incidents with a view to holding the specific perpetrators to account, as well as ending the targeting of humanitarians in future, he added.
The official further expressed concerns that aid workers continue to be killed, harassed and abused despite repeated calls for action.
Meanwhile at least 6,000 people have been forced to flee from Eastern Equatoria to Uganda after dozen were reportedly killed, following an attack by government forces on the town. Thousands more are thought to be sheltering in the bushes in areas surrounding the town, which was estimated to be home to up to 50,000 people.
“I am appalled by the reports surfacing from people fleeing Pajok of their loved ones being killed and their homes being destroyed,” said Owusu.
“I implore the leadership in South Sudan to rapidly investigate these allegations and to end all attacks against civilians,” he added.
The humanitarian situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate. More than 3.5 million people have now been forced to flee their homes, including nearly 1.9 million people who are internally displaced and more than 1.7 million who have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries. On average, 2,000 South Sudanese refugees are reportedly arriving into Uganda daily.