Pibor appeals for return of evacuated aid workers

Pibor appeals for return of evacuated aid workers

The Greater Pibor Administrative Area authorities have appealed to the humanitarian agencies to return their evacuated aid workers to offer healthcare services.

Community stakeholders held a consultative meeting in Pibor where they resolved to work together to facilitate the return of the workers.

Juma Loduz Nyapoz, the chairperson of the steering committee in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, said they had agreed on modalities to ensure that workers head back to their duty stations.

“We would like to inform the humanitarian community that all evacuated aid workers are now free to return to Pibor and resume the operation,” Nyapoz said.

He said the decision was reached after negotiations among the GPAA youth union, the Chief Administrator, United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the Juba delegation led by the NGO Forum.

“The GPAA youth would like to ask all respective organisations operating in Pibor to inform their staff that it is now safe for them to return after the signing of the commitments in the resolution letter.”

 “We have agreed with NGOs that there will be a human resource audit that will be carried out for every NGO operating in Pibor to find out who are recruited, what kind of job potions should be taken up by the locals, and what portions should be competitive for the people of GPAA: that is what we agreed on,” Nyapoz stressed.

He revealed that an investigation team had been formed to address claims of sexual harassment and sexual exploitation of local people.

Probing claims

“We are informed by UNOCHA that there is a team that is currently investigating the issue of sexual harassment for those people who are alleged [to be perpetrating] sexual harassment, and they will remain in Juba until the results come out,” Nyapoz stated.

Nyapoz pledged a commitment to ensure the safety and security of all humanitarian workers in the area.

 “The GPAA youth and youth committee are committed to dialogue as we move forward with the humanitarian community and the GPAA community and government.

“This will include further discussion around the 80 per cent job provision share to include all brothers and sisters across the country, with prioritisation for the people of GPAA, in line with South Sudanese Labour Law and, in particular, the NGO Recruitment Guidelines,” Nyapoz explained.

The youth also agreed to channel their concerns in the future through the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission.

The Information Minister of GPAA, Jay Adingora Alual, confirmed that the issue has been resolved and that those NGOs can now return to Pibor.

“The Government of GPAA commits to the safety and security of humanitarian workers and their assets and will work with the community, youth, and humanitarians to ensure any grievances raised are managed and dealt with before it escalates,” Alual said.

However, Alual said that it had been more than two months since the NGOs left GPAA, and this had hurt the civilians, especially the most vulnerable among them, women, children, and the elderly.

“The communities have stayed for a long without health services and support of food and non-food items. The return of NGOs will save them from the worsening situation, ” he said.

Humanitarian agencies pledged to create an open, transparent space for local staff to raise grievances within or outside their respective agencies, and that would include a representative of local staff in management positions.

“The humanitarian community in GPAA recognises that there is a genuine concern over the human resource recruitment practices in GPAA.”

To address the concerns, its delegation and the humanitarian community have agreed to conduct a quick human resource audit and review of recruitment procedures in each respective organisation independently. This audit will be presented to the GPAA Community, Government, and Youth Committee.

On October 5, more than 70 aid workers attached to humanitarian agencies in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) were evacuated to Bor Town.

The safety measure came after the local youth issued a 72-hour ultimatum demanding the withdrawal of about 30 humanitarian workers serving the communities in the area.

The youth accused the local aid workers of occupying the jobs they claimed would have been left for the natives.