Southern Sudanese soldiers have been looting food convoys and attacking aid workers, humanitarian groups allege.
Aid organizations have documented since February about 80 incidents of obstruction, vehicle hijackings or harassment of aid staff by troops in Southern Sudan. No aid worker has been killed but some have been wounded, according to The Canadian Press.
The Sudanese military’s chief of staff urged aid groups to bring up such issues but warned that they might be expelled from the African nation if complaints become “harsh.”
“I said please don’t be harsh to us like that because tomorrow we can tell you to quit this country and you can go,” Gen. James Hoth Mai said Aug. 31. “But now, for you to continue with your work, you come tell us your problems in a polite way so that you continue with us.”
The Sudan People’s Liberation Army has dismissed the accusations, but a spokesman admitted that humanitarian workers from aid agency Tearfund were beaten and detained by SPLA soldiers in June.
Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Kuol Deim Kuol said his organization believed one of Tearfund’s staff was providing food and medicines to elements of a militia allegedly linked with an opposition party.
“It is not a problem between Tearfund and the SPLA, it is a problem between the SPLA and these wrong elements who are employed in Tearfund,” said Kuol.
U.N.’s top humanitarian aid official in Southern Sudan, Lise Grande, said at a news conference Aug. 30: “There have been interference with the provision of some of that assistance. We know that this is a matter of concern of the SPLA and we’re very pleased that steps are being taken to address that.”