Attacks On Humanitarian Workers In South Sudan

Aid workers in South Sudan have faced attacks and opposition in the past week. In the midst of the attacks on the humanitarian officials, the East African country is ridden with famine and civil war, making the country particularly vulnerable. The UN has called the attacks “reprehensible and unacceptable” and calls for further measures to be taken to protect humanitarians in the area. Aid workers have been beaten and attacked by both opposition forces, as well as the government in the Upper Nile region.

The central UN humanitarian in the region, Eugene Owusu, believes that those accountable need to take responsibility for the crimes committed. He states that he is “appalled by the reports” and that he “implores the leadership in South Sudan to rapidly investigate these allegations and to end all attacks against civilians.” The humanitarians in the area focus on efforts, such as feeding severely malnourished children, where the current situation in the country forces thousands of refugees, 62% of which are children, to flee to neighboring states, such as Uganda. The situation in South Sudan is leading to what seems to be one of the world’s most severe and pressing refugee crises.

There needs to be more done to protect the humanitarian workers of South Sudan. The work that aid workers are doing focuses greatly on children, and it is unprecedented that the workers are receiving punishment for trying to sustain healthy lives of the children who are victims of famine and war. There need to be more permanent actions taken to rebuild the country and prevent further violence and unrest. The UN, although critical and pained by the attacks on humanitarian workers, need to perhaps install a coalition army in the country to prevent more violence from the government. The government and opposition groups clearly are not taking into account the lives or rights of the children and the people of South Sudan, thereby making the situation a humanitarian crisis for all people currently inhabiting the country.

South Sudan has been at war since 1962. The first civil war was between the south and the north, which set the precedent for the next 50 years in the country. The next civil war broke out in 1983, between the north and the south. John Garang’s Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) began fighting with the south after Sudanese President Jaafar Numeiri abolished South Sudan’s autonomy. In 2005, there began a fragile peace process that unsuccessfully led to an ethnic cleansing taking part in the South of the country, despite being ravaged by famine. The UN declared the famine a man-made catastrophe due to civil war and economic instability. The news outlet, ReliefWeb states that, today, “more than 3.5 million people have now been forced to flee their homes, including nearly 1.9 million people who are internally displaced and more than 1.7 million who have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries.”

The situation in South Sudan is a dire, in regards to the famine and civil war as it is creating a severe humanitarian issue and threatening the lives of millions, specifically children. The attack on the aid workers creates an even more unstable country with what seems like little hope for the restoration of the country. Conditions of refugee camps need to be improved in Uganda, where many Sudanese are fleeing to so that they can stay there until the government returns to a normal democratic process. The UN needs to exercise its power and intervene in order to help restore order in the country and end the famine and hardships for so many Sudanese people.

Eva McLafferty