UNMISS peacekeepers evacuate humanitarian workers under threat in Renk
Indian peacekeepers have evacuated humanitarian workers and are providing them with refuge and support following threats and violent attacks by youth in Renk, a town in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan.
Tensions have been building in the area between local youth and humanitarian organizations over demands that jobs be re-assigned from current staff with particular backgrounds to local people. When these demands were not met, threats were made against humanitarian workers and warehouses.
The peacekeeping troops, serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, have been in constant contact with local humanitarian agencies and offered any support needed. They conducted regular patrols to assess the security situation, deter violence, and engaged with local authorities and security forces.
However, the intimidation continued to escalate, and a mob of youth gathered outside a humanitarian warehouse, pelting it with stones. In response to a request for assistance, the peacekeepers mobilized a quick reaction team and evacuated staff from that compound along with humanitarian workers in other locations.
“Threats and attacks on our humanitarian partners are completely unacceptable. Nobody working for the UN, whether as peacekeepers or those who provide life-saving aid to communities, should be a target,” said David Shearer, the Special Representative of the UN-Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS.
“Young people in South Sudan have suffered greatly but they have to give durable peace a chance. This is the only way forward for youth in this country to have a prosperous, economically stable future. I urge those creating tension in Renk to pull back, stop making threats, and to respect the important work being done by humanitarian workers to support those in need.”
In total, 32 humanitarian workers have been evacuated and provided with protection, shelter, food, and water at the UNMISS compound.
The mission’s peacekeeping troops are continuing to monitor the situation through constant patrolling and are protecting humanitarian assets when needed. They are also urging local political and community leaders as well as military and police services to ensure the safety of humanitarian staff who courageously provide lifesaving assistance to communities across the region.