“Protect humanitarian workers” in South Sudan: Caritas Official to Government

The Executive Director of Caritas South Sudan (CSS), Gabriel Yai Kuol. Credit: ACI Africa

There is need for the government of South Sudan to protect humanitarian workers serving in the East-Central African nation, the Executive Director of Caritas South Sudan (CSS) has said.

In a Thursday, August 18 interview with ACI Africa ahead of this year’s World Humanitarian Day (WHD) marked Friday, August 19, Gabriel Yai Kuol said aid workers play a critical role in “supporting the people in need” in the world’s youngest nation. 

“I urge the government to take more measures in place to protect humanitarian workers by allowing free movement,” Mr. Kuol said, and added, “There should be proper security measures put in place at least to protect those who are supporting the people in need.”

The CSS official also urged armed groups in the country to "protect humanitarian workers as they do their work, because the work of humanitarian workers is to save or rescue the lives of vulnerable people."

On the eve of WHD, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and Resident Coordinator in South Sudan, Sara Beysolow Nyanti, called for “urgent collective efforts” to address the humanitarian crisis in the country and an immediate end to attacks against civilians and humanitarian workers.


“It takes a village to raise a child. In the same way, it takes an array of partners to support crisis-affected people. We need urgent collective efforts to help the vulnerable population in South Sudan,” Ms. Nyanti, a native of Liberia, has been quoted as saying August 18.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), four humanitarian workers have been killed in the line of duty in South Sudan since the beginning of this year.  

Across the country that gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, humanitarian workers, and overwhelmingly national humanitarian workers, are affected by the impact of armed violence, bureaucratic impediments, and targeted violence, OCHA has reported.

In the August 18 interview with ACI Africa, the Executive Director CSS said, “Aid workers saving the lives of the vulnerable people whether they are on the government or opposition’s side all need to be treated with dignity.”

“We know there are so many incidents that took place in different locations in the previous years that doesn’t put the country in a better position in terms of protection for the humanitarian workers,” Mr. Kuol further said.

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He went on to highlight some of the challenges Caritas personnel face when responding to humanitarian situations, saying, "There are issues with insecurity when we are carrying out our activities, particularly our diocesan Caritas like Torit, where there was an incident in Ikwotos where our Carita member working with Caritas Switzerland was killed."

To strategize better, the Caritas official pledged to "activate the Caritas forum where we resume our Caritas forum meeting at the national level so that we coordinate ourselves as Caritas members to share information."

“If there are challenges, we come together as members to find ways of resolving them to stop it from happening,” he said, and added, “We have a number of Caritas in the country that will come together once a month to discuss these challenges.”

“We need to put some measures in place so that we don’t really enter into these problems like what happened in Torit,” Mr. Kuol told ACI Africa August 18 referencing the killing of Caritas Switzerland personnel in South Sudan’s Torit Diocese.

Patrick Juma Wani is a South Sudanese journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. Patrick holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from Makerere Institute for Social Development (MISD) in Uganda. He has over 7 years of extensive experience in leading the development and implementation of media, advocacy, communication and multimedia strategy and operations, with an excellent track record of editorial leadership, budget management, and stakeholder outreach. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.