[Juba, South Sudan, TCT] An international humanitarian organization operating in South Sudan has threatened to reconsider operating in the country citing harassment of its staff.
(Left) A South Sudanese boy holding a school bag given by NRC. The aid agency has been operating in Sudan since 2004. (Credit: NRC).
Through its Secretary General, Jan Egeland, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has said the order for its second senior staff to leave the country is unacceptable and that it hinders its ability to save lives and reduce human suffering.
“Aid organizations cannot operate under these conditions. Without assurances from the authorities that we will be able to operate without interference, NRC may have to reassess our ability to deliver assistance at scale in South Sudan,” said Egeland.
According to a statement from NRC, one of its senior managers in Alek, Warrap State, was told to leave the country without any explanation for the decision. This comes only four days after NRC’s Country Director was also ordered to leave the country.
The NRC has expressed dismay at the action by the government, saying it had not received any formal explanation of the charges against the two individuals.
The Secretary General said aid organizations must be permitted to operate without interference, intimidation or fear of expulsion, and asked the government to respect humanitarian principles.
This incident comes on the eve of the third anniversary of the outbreak of South Sudan’s civil war, on 15 December 2013. Currently, South Sudan is one of the countries with the highest levels of conflict-induced population displacement globally.
More than 3 million South Sudanese have been forced to flee their homes since conflict broke out in December 2013. This includes almost 2 million people who are internally displaced, and over 1 million people who have fled to neighbouring countries.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International is calling on South Sudanese authorities to reveal the whereabouts of two United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) staff who have been in detention since January this year.
Family members of Anthony Nyero and James Lual have not had any contact with them since then. Their last known place of detention was a National Security Service (NSS) facility in Juba, along the bank of the Nile River.
Amnesty says the government’s failure to show credible evidence of a crime committed by the two violates the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the UN and the Government of South Sudan.
It has urged the security agencies to ensure the two have access to their family members, lawyers of their own choice, adequate medical care and are not subjected to torture or ill-treatment.
“We are also calling on the government to end arbitrary detentions by the NSS, particularly in the Jebel headquarters and the riverside detention facilities and initiate prompt, effective and impartial investigations into NSS detention practices,” a statement from AI has said.