South Sudanese bill could restrict aid access, UN bodies warn

8 Feb 16

Three United Nations agencies have warned that South Sudan is facing unprecedented levels of food insecurity and called for unfettered humanitarian access a week after a bill was passed placing restrictions on foreign aid in the country.


People in displaced persons camp in Juba, South Sudan

People in displaced persons camp in Juba, South Sudan


The Food and Agriculture Organisation, UNICEF and the World Food Programme all voiced concern today as figures show around 2.8 million people, 25% of the country’s population, remain in urgent need of assistance and at least 40,000 are “on the brink of catastrophe”.

Serge Tissot, acting FAO representative in South Sudan, said even areas not affected by conflict are seeing their access to food deteriorate owing to factors such as price inflation and market disruption tied to the fighting.

WFP country director Jocye Luma added that rising insecurity in some areas is hampering the delivery of humanitarian assistance through major routes, setting back efforts to prepare and respond to people who are most in need.

Ongoing conflict in the world’s youngest country has long interrupted the flow of aid, however a bill passed by the South Sudanese parliament passed last week contains measures that could further restrict access for humanitarian relief workers.

The Non-Governmental Organisation Bill limits the number of foreign aid workers that a given relief organisation can employ and increases the documentation required by aid workers to do their work.

The humanitarian community and a European mission delegation have said they are concerned about the bill.

A statement from the heads of the European mission, seen by the Sudan Tribune, reads: “The heads of the mission accept that regulation of the non-governmental sector can be a positive development in any country.

“The heads of the mission however have significant concerns that in their current form these bills could restrict the operation of NGOs who are providing life-saving services to the people of South Sudan.”

Eugene Owusu, UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, said he was “deeply concerned” that the bill could have “wide-ranging and negative ramifications for the humanitarian operation at a time when needs are higher than ever”.

“I urge the government to uphold both the letter and spirit of the peace agreement of this critical issue,” he added.

The peace agreement between warring parties, signed last August, stated that a transitional unity government should review what was then a draft of the bill and submit the legislation to a process of public consultation to ensure it complies with international best practice. 

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