A recent United Nations report features shocking details about the harassment of aid groups in the past few months by South Sudanese forces.
Tim McKulka/United Nations Mission in Sudan(UNMIS)/Reuters/File
Juba, South Sudan
With the soon-to-be-born nation of South Sudan facing numerous threats – from internal rebellions to violent clashes with northern Sudanese troops along their common border – it might not be surprising that aid workers are finding their area of operation shrinking rapidly. But one of the main reasons is not conflict, but harassment, aid workers say, by the South Sudanese forces themselves.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Army – a former guerrilla group that makes up the ruling party of South Sudan – has begun to prey on United Nations agencies and aid groups attempting to access needy and conflict-affected civilians.
In some cases, aid workers say privately, the SPLA is stealing humanitarian vehicles and supplies. In other instances, it is simply forbidding aid groups from traveling to the remote areas where the army is conducting its campaigns against various anti-government militias.
UN officials and aid groups are reluctant to comment on the record about the grievous impacts of these campaigns, for fear of losing whatever access they currently have to vulnerable groups, many of whom have been caught up in the crossfire of the ongoing army-rebel violence.
But a recent report by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Southern Sudan features shocking details about the harassment of aid groups in 2011 to date by the SPLA.