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Government to protect aid workers

The Government has committed to protect humanitarian workers in order to improve accessibility to reach millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance.
“It is always the policy of the government to provide safety and conducive working environment for all our humanitarian workers,” Hussein Mar Nyuot, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management said at a press conference on Saturday.
“We are making sure, and we are working with our security organs that humanitarian aid must go unimpeded.”
Minister Nyuot made the commitment after humanitarian workers on Friday appealed for protection and safety, saying civilians and aid workers should not be targets in conflict situations.
On Friday, the acting Humanitarian Coordinator, Serge Tissot said South Sudan is one of the most dangerous places where at least 82 aid workers had been killed since 2013, including 15 this year.
“Aid workers are routinely subjected to harassment and intimidation with impunity for the perpetrators,” said Tissot.
He also raised concerns about increasing access denials, with close to 630 humanitarian incidents reported since January including attacks on humanitarian compounds, looting aid supplies and convoys across the country.
According to the UN, since January, 27 security-related incidents had forced the relocation of some 300 aid workers. “These incidents signify a total lack of respect and a worsening operating environment for aid workers in the country,” he said.
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported that 15 incidents of looting were reported across the country, in which warehouses and trucks on transit were looted leading to the loss of 670 metric tons of food aid in Eastern Equatoria, Lakes, Upper Nile and Warrap states.
Minister Nyuot recognizes the challenges facing humanitarian workers, but blamed it on the conflict that forced humanitarian personnel to work under difficult environments, leading to loss of lives and property.
“It is this crisis in which a lot of people have got arms, and a lot of people take laws into their own hands, that is why we are talking about what we are saying today,” the Minister said.
Minister Nyuot also said the government was cooperating with the humanitarian community to see that aid assistance reached the vulnerable anywhere in the country, including rebel held areas.
The country has 1.9 million internally displaced people, and approximately two million people have fled to refugee camps.
Nearly six million people are in need of food assistance, due to effects of drought in some parts of the country and insecurity, which have impacted negatively on their livelihoods, all are in need of assistance according to Minister Nyuot.

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