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UN calls for end to restriction on humanitarian agencies in war-torn South Sudan

November 30, 2016 (JUBA) United Nations Official for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said aid workers increasingly face "bureaucratic impediments", and called on South Sudanese authorities to ensure unfettered access to the needy in the affected areas.

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The conflict in South Sudan has triggered a humanitarian crisis with 2.3 million people forced from their homes and 4.6 million in need of emergency food (AFP Photo/Tony Karumba)

Eugene Owusu, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan and deputy head of UN mission in the country, said agencies registered more than cases of blockage to aid work in November.

"They (humanitarian organizations) continue to face obstacles and challenges which hamper their efforts. This must stop," said Owusu in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.

Such impediments and other bureaucratic constraints, negatively efforts to reach people in need.

Of 91 cases registered between November 1 to November 28, sixty eight were involved violence against humanitarian personnel/assets, while eighteen involved interference in humanitarian action, including interference in administrative matters, illegal or arbitrary taxation expulsion of staff. Humanitarian workers were also denied access to areas outside of Yei, a town witnessing some violence since July, in Central Equatoria and Wau town in Western Bahr El Ghazal, where tens of thousands of people are in need of assistance and protection.

Owusu said steps such President Salva Kiir’s establishment of Humanitarian High-Level Oversight Committee are "appreciative" but more should be done.

“These recent events are a major concern and it is vital that we see the commitments made in high-level fora fully translate into real, tangible and immediate improvements in the operating environment for aid workers on the frontlines of humanitarian action," he said.

Humanitarian needs in South Sudan continue to rise as a result of conflict and economic decline, OCHA said. There are three million people displaced since fighting broke out in December 2013, including 1.9 million who are internally displaced and more than 1.1 million who have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees.

OCHA said it has reached some 4.1 million people in 2016 through various humanitarian organizations with assistance and protection across the country, including in some of the most remote areas. Owusu said the government and opposition should also play their role in washing access to needy people.

“I call on all parties to allow free, safe and unhindered humanitarian access so that our colleagues can reach and assist people whose lives have been torn apart by this crisis. Regardless of where they are in the country, civilians in need have a right to receive help," he added.

(ST)