South Sudan NGOs 'committed' to humanitarian work, but say fighting must stop

(Photo: REUTERS / Carl Odera)United Nations Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide and Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng (R) flanked by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay address a news conference at the U.N. base in Juba April 30, 2014. A personal power struggle between South Sudan's leaders is driving Africa's newest nation to "catastrophe", Pillay said on Wednesday. The visit by Pillay was prompted by a rebel attack on the South Sudanese oil hub of Bentiu this month that left hundreds dead and a revenge assault by rivals on people sheltering in a U.N. base.

A group of non-governmental organzsations (NG0s) says it remains committed to providing humanitarian services in South Sudan but needs a cessation of hostilities to carry out its work.

Meanwhile, the World Council of Churches said Thursday a high-level ecumenical delegation representing church organizations will arrive in Juba, South Sudan on Friday, 2 May.

The delegation will meet with church leaders and government officials, urging immediate actions for peace and reconciliation.

Among those in the delegation will be WCC general secretary, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit; the ACT Alliance general secretary John Nduna; the, World YWCA head, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, and the WCC's former general secretary Rev. Samuel Kobia.

The NGO group includes major church aid agencies such as Caritas, Christian Aid, the Lutheran World Federation, DanChurch Aid and the Baptist Relief Agency. It expresses deep concern at the serious escalation in violence in South Sudan.

The group says the conflict will not end through its commitment to humanitarian efforts.

"All parties to the conflict must immediately commit to respecting the cessation of hostilities agreement without exception, resume genuine talks in Addis Ababa and work towards a negotiated, inclusive political settlement," the statement says.

It says the conflict has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and is "exacerbating an already profound humanitarian crisis."

"We strongly condemn all attacks that have taken place against civilians during this conflict, most recently at the UN peacekeeping base in Bor on 17th April and in the town of Bentiu on 15th-18th April.

"Civilians have been targeted on the basis of their ethnicity, others indiscriminately killed, and many subjected to unspeakable grave human rights abuses including rape," the statement says.

The NGOs note that widespread violence against civilians has reportedly been committed since December 2013, but that recent events display "a serious deepening of the conflict and callous disregard for civilian life and international humanitarian law."

Lutheran World Federation assistant general secretary for International Affairs and Human Rights, Ralston Deffenbaugh, noted that the people of South Sudan suffered 50 years of civil war during which millions were killed or displaced.

"The hope brought by the 2005 peace accord and the 2011 transition to independence has been brutally dashed," Deffenbaugh said. "The leaders of the armed factions in South Sudan should put down their weapons immediately, resolve their differences peacefully, and treat their fellow citizens, their fellow human beings, with dignity and respect," Deffenbaugh said.

He called for those around the world who have influence on the armed factions to urge them to cease the violence immediately.

So far an estimated 1 million people have been forced from their homes; of these more than 90,000 people are sheltering in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) bases across the country.

Thousands of people have fled to the UN peacekeeping base in Bentiu for fear of reprisal attacks in the past week.

Many areas outside the main towns remain inaccessible due to security conditions, and it is feared that the number of people affected by the violence and in need of humanitarian assistance could be significantly higher.

It is estimated that 3.2 million are at risk of extreme food insecurity, a number that will only rise in coming months.

"NGOs call on all armed actors to uphold their responsibilities under international humanitarian and human rights law, refrain from targeting civilians, respect the sanctity of civilian spaces, and permit immediate and unconditional humanitarian access to civilians in areas they control."

International NGOs and South Sudanese civil society signatories:




Africa Educational Trust

Amref Health Africa

Baptist Relief Agency (BARA)

Better World Campaign

Care International

Caritas Switzerland and Luxembourg


Christian Aid


Concern Worldwide



Danish Church Aid

Food for the Hungry

Finn Church Aid

Health Net TPO


International Medical Corps

International Rescue Committee


Johanniter International

Kissito Healthcare International

Lutheran World Federation

Malteser International

Mercy Corps

Mentor initiative

Mine Action Group (MAG)

National Relief and Development Corps (NRDC)

Non Violent Peace Force

Norwegian Refugee Council




Plan International

People in Need

Relief International

Red R

Rural Action Against Hunger

Sign of Hope


Sudan Evangelical Mission


Terres Des Hommes



World Relief

World Vision

Windle Trust International

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