Attack on aid workers equals sabotage on development
On Tuesday, the United Nations Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs raised concerns over the 72-hour ultimatum issued by the youth in Pibor for aid workers to vacate the area.
According to their statement, youth are demanding that at least 30 humanitarian workers leave the area within 72 hours. They accused the humanitarian workers from other states of occupying positions belonging to the indigenous communities they are operating in.
This year has been very tough for the humanitarian workers operating in the country. In the last three months, there have been several attacks on the aid workers in the Upper Nile and the Eastern Equatoria states. In Eastern Equatoria State, about three aid workers were killed along Kapoeta-Torit road and two medical doctors were heinously butchered in their rooms by unknown assailants.
Besides these, there have been several occasions where youth have stormed the compounds of NGOs and the UN agencies in the Ruweng Administrative Area. They were demanding employment as they allege bias, especially in the hiring process.
These protracted attacks on the humanitarian aid workers who are providing life-saving items to the vulnerable need to be addressed by the government because the youth are attacking fellow citizens who happen to be from different states but working in their areas.
These malicious attacks against fellow youth from other parts of the country may even worsen the already destroyed social fabric among the citizens because there is no basis for any youth to start disliking others who have gone to provide services to their communities who are in dire need of assistance.
It is time for the government to take this matter very seriously and find an amicable solution to it because it is almost three months since President Salva Kiir formed a committee to address it.
But it seems that no step had been taken apart from the meeting held between the representative of the UN agencies Mathew Hollingsworth and the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar on Monday.
If left unaddressed and prolongs, this issue will force all the humanitarian agencies to withdraw their staff from the rural areas if the threats and attacks against aid workers continue. This will hit hard especially the communities that have been affected by the floods.
According to the UN agencies, there are more than 100,000 people who need humanitarian assistance in Pibor Administrative Area alone. This means that any attempt by the aid workers to withdraw from the area means that the lives of those people shall be at doom because they will have access to basic services which the government is unable to provide.
There is a need for the state government or authorities in the administrative areas to provide maximum protection to the aid workers serving in their areas. Unfortunately, it seems some of those local authorities are mollifying their youth because such groups are trying to put the lives of thousands of people at risk by chasing away the aid workers. They should be arrested and discipline.