South Sudan: UN relief wing reports increase in violence against aid workers

15 June 2016 – While thousands of vulnerable people in South Sudan have been reached with assistance and protection in recent months, violent incidents against aid workers increased during the month of May, the United Nations humanitarian wing reported today.

According to a humanitarian update for South Sudan, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) found that 78 humanitarian access incidents were reported by partners in May, 73 per cent of which involved violence against aid personnel or their properties. The figure was higher than in April, when 48 incidents were reported, and also higher than the monthly average of 63 incidents reported from January to March.

“Road and river travel for humanitarians continues to be hazardous,” OCHA said in theupdate.

The violent incidents – including shooting, ambushes, assaults, harassment and robberies – increased during May, and included the killing of three humanitarian workers, bringing the reported number of aid workers killed in South Sudan to 55 since the conflict began in December 2013.

Since January, there have been 29 incidents of robberies of vehicles while traveling to assess, deliver and pre-position vital supplies, 13 of them in the month of May. In Upper Nile, humanitarian partners were shot at while attempting to cross the River Nile to deliver humanitarian assistance between Malakal and Wau Shilluk on 26 and 30 May, OCHA said.

In the update, OCHA also reported that nearly 4,500 internally displaced people departed the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site in May, bringing the population in the site to about 95,000 at the end of the month.

Most of those departing – mainly adult men and women – reported that they planned on engaging in farming activities in Rubkona, Guit and Koch counties.



An internally displaced woman seeking refuge from the ongoing violence in the swamps of Unity state, cooks her last supply of sorghum. Photo: FAO South Sudan


In addition, OCHA said that thousands of people have received humanitarian assistance in Guit, Koch, Mayom and Rubkona counties in recent months, as partners based in Bentiu took advantage of the dry season to extend aid to parts of Unity previously inaccessible by road.

About 103,400 people have been reached with food rations distributed outside the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site – including in Bentiu Town, Ding Ding, Kuach, Nhialdiu, Nimni, Bil, Kadet and Jazeera – since February, while seeds and fishing kits have been provided to about 7,400 households in Guit County and 10,000 in Koch County, OCHA said.

Nutrition surveys have been conducted in Guit and Rubkona in May, and support for acutely malnourished children and pregnant and lactating mothers is ongoing.

OCHA also highlighted that more than one year following the start of the offensive in south and central Unity in April 2015, which displaced hundreds of thousands of people, more than 310,000 people – including displaced, returnees and vulnerable host community members – are receiving humanitarian assistance and protection in southern Unity.

However, humanitarian partners have reported that their activities are increasingly impeded by under-funding. Ganyiel hospital, the only functioning referral theatre in southern Unity, has shortages of regular primary health-care commodities due to logistical constraints and road insecurities. In mid-April, health cluster partners from Bentiu had to send surgical and anaesthetic kits to the hospital, OCHA said.

In addition, OCHA reported that since August 2015, ongoing insecurity and four major outbreaks of fighting have affected Yambio and Gangura. As a result, civilians were displaced multiple times, including to the surrounding jungle areas and other payams.

Moreover, health partners are investigating an outbreak of haemorrhagic fever syndrome that has affected Aweil North and West counties since December 2015. The latest case was detected on 3 June, although no new deaths have been reported since 28 February, OCHA said.

As the rainy season begins, humanitarian partners are also working closely with relevant authorities to avert an outbreak of cholera.