Food for the Hungry (FH) and 54 major humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in South Sudan reaffirmed their commitment to help all civilian populations. The recent cease fire signing in Addis Ababa between the South Sudan government and opposition forces is a hopeful sign for NGOs to continue working.
With at least three aid workers killed since December 15, many NGOs have left South Sudan for safety concerns stopping essential work. FH has continued assessment work to help serve communities in the midst of the current conflict.
Continued work is imperative as the country’s rainy season soon starts making the transportation of supplies impossible, leaving some areas totally cut-off from assistance.
Alarmed at the scale of human suffering seen in the country in the past six weeks, FH and other NGOs are asking all parties to protect civilians, to refrain from targeting attacks on civilian areas, and to distinguish between civilians and combatants.
FH and other NGOs made a public statement that they operate in accordance with the four key humanitarian principles of:
- The Humanitarian Imperative: Seeking to alleviate human suffering, wherever it is found.
- Impartiality: Giving aid regardless of the race, creed or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind. Aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone.
- Neutrality: Aid is not used to further a particular political or religious standpoint, and NGOs do not take sides in a conflict.
- Independence: NGOs formulate their own policies and implementation strategies and do not seek to implement the foreign policy of any government.
“The humanitarian imperative means that we seek to provide assistance to any civilians who may need it,” said Wendy Taeuber, Country Director of the International Rescue Committee, one of the 55 NGOs. “Collectively, we want to be able to help all people in need, wherever they may be located in South Sudan and regardless of who is controlling that area.”
However, the NGOs emphasized that in order to be able to provide assistance to those who need it, it is essential that all parties recognize the independence of NGOs, and ensure respect and protection for their staff, assets, facilities and humanitarian activities.
“We call upon all parties in the conflict to allow unimpeded humanitarian access, and to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of our staff,” said Caroline Boyd, Medair’s Country Director.
Please pray for continued peace and consider partnering with FH to help South Sudans continue to rebuild their communities and lives.