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UN rights commissioners concerned by attacks on S. Sudan aid workers

Non-food items distributing to IDPS by the UNHCR workers in Maridi on 4 March 2016 (ST Photo)
August 24, 2018 (JUBA) - A visiting delegation of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan Friday voiced concerns about the growing attack on aid workers in Yei as result of the multiplication of the rebel splinter groups.

A three-member delegation of the UN Human rights commission in South Sudan concluded its fifth field visit to the country from (20 to 24 August) where they met government officials, civil society groups, religious leaders, foreign diplomats and UNMISS official including David Shearer the head of the peacekeeping mission.

The delegation headed by Yasmin Sooka visited IDPs camps including the including UNMISS Protection of Civilian (PoC) sites in Juba Wau and Yei, to meet the people living there, community leaders and civil society organisations.

In a press conference held in the UNMISS headquarters in Juba, the Commission’s chairperson Sooka pointed out to the notable decrease in political violence in the country following the recent progress in the IGAD-mediated peace process.

Nonetheless, she said alarmed by an increase of attacks on aid workers in the troubled Yei River State and attributed the lack of security to the proliferation of divided armed groups.

"Humanitarians have increasingly come under attack by various armed groups including government soldiers," she told reporters.

In April and June 2018, armed groups abducted humanitarian working in the troubled state accusing them of spying for the South Sudanese government. Also, a UN soldier was killed in an ambush on a humanitarian convoy in the area.

The visiting commission members said there is no accountability for the crimes and atrocities committed by the government or rebel forces in the border area with Uganda. Also, they pointed out the notable number of abandoned babies born of rape.

The delegation members will conduct separate visits to South Sudanese refugees in Kenya, Sudan and Uganda from 25 to 29 August. Following what, they will meet African Union and IGAD officials in Addis Ababa on 30-31 August.

The Human rights commissioners, also, called on the South Sudanese government to address the issue of land grabbing in Yei and to take the necessary measures to give back lands to its owners.

"Houses are being occupied by other ethnic groups. Many feel frustrated at the government’s inaction on the return of land and homes to their original owners and I think this is going to be a major challenge in the country as the peace implementation begins to take place," stressed the head of the visiting delegation.