JUBA – A group of local youth in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) has threatened to attack aid workers if they don’t leave the restive area within a period of only 72 hours and the United Nations is furious for the ultimatum which is expected to disrupt humanitarian operations in the area.
In a statement on October 4, 2021, a youth group in Pibor demanded that at least 30 humanitarian personnel leave the area within 72 hours. The youth group accused the humanitarian workers of coming from outside the country to occupy positions that they say belong to the local community.
In a statement on Tuesday, Acting UN Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator, Matthew Hollingworth, slammed the ultimatum given and called on the government of South Sudan and local communities to ensure safety and security of humanitarian personnel.
“I am deeply concerned with the latest threat by youth groups against humanitarians serving the South Sudanese community. We are here to deliver critical assistance to the most vulnerable people, including women, children and the elderly,” said Hollingworth in the statement.
“The consequences of these threats will impact the provision of critical services to people, such as urgent food assistance, health and nutrition services and protection support, among others. Without these frontline workers, all of whom are South Sudanese citizens, we cannot reach people with life-saving aid and people’s humanitarian needs will deepen,” he added.
This latest threat by the local youth group is not the first of its kind and will impact response operations to more than 100,000 of the most vulnerable people in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area. Since the start of the year, humanitarians have been threatened and attacked by youth in Renk in Upper Nile and Torit in Eastern Equatoria, to name but a few.
These attacks led to the suspension of humanitarian activities and the relocation of workers.
“The worrying trend of threats and attacks by youth groups against humanitarians is unacceptable and must stop. I call on all parties, at all levels, to respect, protect and enable humanitarian action,” he said.
“This trend of targeting fellow citizens only works to delay and discourage the public and private development initiatives that we all wish to see working alongside relief efforts in the most vulnerable areas of the country.”