UN humanitarian coordinator calls for protection of civilians in South Sudan

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Toby Lanzer at food distribution site in Yida refugee camp. (Credit: UNMISS – 24 August 2012)

The Government of South Sudan is being urged to reinforce its ongoing efforts to strengthen law and order and hold to account those who are responsible for committing crimes and putting civilian populations at risk.

The call comes from the UN humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan Toby Lanzer who expressed deep concern about the increasing threats to civilians in Jonglei State after meeting communities whom he said are living in fear of what may happen over the coming weeks. He said he's been informed of attacks on humanitarian actors and the seizure of humanitarian assets and commodities. And he stressed "This must stop".

Mr. Lanzer also called on all armed actors to respect their obligations under international law to ensure that civilians are spared  the consequences of military engagement. He said "armed actors must distinguish between civilians and those directly involved in hostilities, regardless of their ethnicity or location.

At the same time, the UN humanitarian coordinator stressed that "Civilians seeking assistance and protection from violence must be allowed to move freely in line with their own judgment". He said "The provision of impartial, neutral and independent humanitarian action must be respected by all armed actors, and the rapid and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid facilitated to those in need, wherever they may be".

The humanitarian community in South Sudan has been delivering life-saving assistance to the civilian population, mostly women and children, affected by recent violent events in Jonglei State.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’26″

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