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Civilians remain at risk in South Sudan, Security Council told

April 1, 2016

Senior United Nations officials today cautioned that the humanitarian and human rights situation in South Sudan remains dire, and asked the Security Council to call on the parties to the conflict and armed actors to uphold their obligations under international law to protect civilians and aid workers, and grant free access for delivery of life-saving supplies.

“The challenge in South Sudan is an increasing disconnect between the assurances of national and the actions of local groups,” said UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordination, Stephen O’Brien.

He noted that civilians continue to be “targeted, attacked and displaced” and that “acute humanitarian needs persist” worsened by the recurrent lack of access. Despite a Presidential Statement on 17 March, in which the Council urged the Government of South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) to allow people to move freely and aid to get to those in need, more than 17 incidents of obstruction of access have been reported.

These comprise of interference “by parties from individual armed actors through to national authorities,” Mr. O’Brien said. He noted illegal exactions and taxes, and demands at check points for payments to cross: “Such extortions are unacceptable and must stop.”

Aid workers and humanitarian supplies are targeted, with at least two worked killed since December 2013, and a conservative estimate of humanitarian losses since the beginning of this year of around $10 million. In addition to the ongoing violence, the deteriorating economic situation is further driving instability. The monthly cost of food and clean water for an average family now amounts to 10 times the salary of a teacher, O’Brien said.

Despite such obstacles, the UN and partners were able to reach more than 4.5 million people with assistance, often in the most remote areas. However, a critical lack of funding is hobbling future efforts, Mr. O’Brien warned. Of the required $1.3 billion earmarked to reach over 5 million people, only 9 per cent of the funding has been received from the international community.

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