South Sudan rebels have implored aid workers to deliver relief supplies through Uganda, saying it borders their operation areas. According to Kenyi Erastus Michael, the rebel-appointed commissioner in Kajo Keji county, aid groups should send relief from Uganda, which borders the rebel-held areas, instead of trying to send convoys across front lines from Juba.
“Humanitarian agencies …want to bring their things from their main stores in Juba with permission from the government, and then it is the government sabotaging it,” Michael was quoted as saying by phone. South Sudan’s government holds most major towns in Equatoria and the rebels are in the countryside but aid groups are mostly based in the government-controlled capital, Juba.
one of the world’s most dangerous for aid workers, the South Sudan civil war has seen at least 79 killed since December 2013, including six in a single attack in March.
Meanwhile, the South Sudan President’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said government may withhold permission for aid workers to go to some rebel-held areas on security grounds, the, after the UN complained aid convoys were being blocked.
“We cannot allow them (aid workers) to go and then be hit by wrong elements against peace and then the government will be blamed,” said Wek Ateny adding: “It is about safety for the humanitarians. It is to be coordinated, and the government can only clear the humanitarian workers when it is safe.”
Ateny’s comments follow UN complaints that the government has blocked aid deliveries to rebel-held areas in the southern Equatoria region over the last two months, but allowed aid to reach government-held towns.
South Sudan’s four-year-old civil war has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than three million.
Since May, four aid convoys were prevented from reaching 30,000 displaced civilians in rebel-held areas in Central Equatoria state’s Kajo Keji county, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.
Authorities also restricted relief groups from rural areas around Torit town in Eastern Equatoria state, OCHA said.
Both counties face ‘emergency’ levels of food insecurity, one step below famine, according this month’s report from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification system (IPC), a government-led statistical body.
In Western Equatoria, aid groups were denied access to the rebel-held villages Kotobi and Bangolo, the UN said.
But aid deliveries have reached government-controlled towns, OCHA noted.