20 Mar 2019


7 Humanitarian Aid Workers Released After Weeks Of Detention By SPLA-IO In Yei River State

7 humanitarian aid workers arrested on 25 of March 2018 by rebel forces loyal to Riek Machar were released this week after spending more than three weeks in detention deep in the forests of Yei River State

7 Humanitarian Aid Workers Released After Weeks Of Detention By SPLA-IO In Yei River State

By Daniel Friday Martin

YEI, 21 April.2018 [Gurtong]-
The seven were working for a national humanitarian organization-South Sudan Health Association (SSUHA) in Wuji Payam of Kupera County where they were on a mission delivering an assorted consignment of medical supplies to four primary health care centers to rescue thousands of civilians trapped in Kupera County.

Two out of the seven aid workers went to the field site without the organization Identity Cards and the SPLA-IO rebels alleged that the two were government spies.

An allegation the organization’s top official said the ID cards were mistakenly left in one of their cars in their base in Lainya County.

“It was actually our mistake that the aid workers rushed to the field and forgot their IDs in one of their cars in the Lainya base but I want to confirm to the media here that we have all the IDs of the two of our aid workers one of them is a driver and the other driver was newly recruited and all of them have the IDs right here with us” said Justa Lugala SSUHA’s executive director.

SPLA-IO deputy military Spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel says, they released all the seven staffs after undergoing thorough investigation in unknown villages of Yei River State.

Lam Paul Gabriel told the media that all the aid workers were released following directives from Riek Machar that all prisoners whether on political or humanitarian grounds be released.

“There is no need to hold them as prisoners of war when we are releasing others. It’s better for us to release them and we request them once they are moving to our territory, they need to move with full documentation and give us detailed information of their staff so that we are aware.” sais Lam Paul.

SSUHA’s program Director, Justa Lugala appealed to the worrying parties not to prevent aid workers from reaching out services to vulnerable communities with medical supplies in the rural areas.

Lugala says hindered access by both sides to the conflict is frustrating humanitarian partners from delivering aid to the conflict affected population in Yei River State.

 “These allegations are not going to help them. It affects the people and my appeal is that they should differentiate people who are fighting and people who are delivering services and when they keep doing that it subjects the staff into trauma and let them avoid this in the future because there are children, mothers and the elderly people in need of support”

One of the aid workers told Gurtong on condition of anonymity that they were not badly treated by the rebels but says thousands of people in the rural village of Kupera County are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

 “The place where we were taken to was cut off from medical services. People are scattered and our interest was to reach them because these are the same people cut off on the other side and they urgently need medical supplies if the population is to live healthy”

The seven aid workers were handed over to Action Africa International by UNHCR at the South Sudan-Uganda satellite town of Busia.

Musa Noah is another humanitarian worker for Action Africa Help International. He says forces from both sides to the conflict at the local levels failed to respect the article seven of the cessation of hostilities which calls for under hindered access for humanitarian aid personnel.

He says the seven staff were released but they lost their personal belongings to the armed opposition forces.

 “All the seven staff together with three vehicles were released but unfortunately they lost all their personal belongings. It’s still a challenge that at the lower level, the humanitarian access is not strictly followed. My call is that the leadership from both sides to ensure that the commitment is respected and humanitarian workers are allowed to provide services to the communities who are in need,” he said.

Article seven of the cessation of the hostilities agreement stipulates that Parties shall uphold international law, and shall allow and facilitate unfettered access for people in need to receive assistance from the United Nations, and impartial international and national non-governmental organizations.

It also say the Parties shall guarantee the safety and security of all humanitarian personnel.

Yei River State Governor Emmanuel Adil Anthony told all the government organized forces in the State to grant free access for all humanitarian aid workers.

“The president has issued an order and the order states that all humanitarian personnel including their vehicles to where ever they want to go in Yei River State and on the same order I have directed all the security operatives in the state never to prevent any humanitarian organizations delivering services to the vulnerable people in the state” said Adil.


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