Equatoria Community Leaders in Diaspora Condemn the Threats against Equatorians Working with International NGOs in Bor

PRESS RELEASE

By Equatorian Leaders in the Diaspora

Date: 5th June 2017,

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July 05, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —— The Equatorian Community in Diaspora condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the threats by the Dinka Bor youth against Equatorian South Sudanese working with non-governmental and international humanitarian organisations in Bor.

In a letter dated 28th June 2017, allegedly from the Bor Community Youth Association, a threat against Equatorians living and working with NGOs in Jonglei State was issued with a 72 hours (3 days) ultimatum. The letter, addressed to UN OCHA (through ‘state RRC office’), demanded that all the NGOs and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) evacuate their Equatorian staff from Bor. This was followed by a second letter dated 3rd July 2017, warning of imminent danger of attack against Equatorians in Bor. Unconfirmed reports on the same day (3 July 2017) indicated that the first casualty had happened, involving Equatorian staff working for ICRC and that UNMISS has commenced collection of Equatorians into UNMISS compound. This sinister warning, crude though it is, should not be taken as an idle threat, and should be summarily condemned by the International Community and the government of South Sudan held accountable for anything that happens to the targeted staff.

We hold the government of South Sudan responsible for this violation of basic human rights for allowing this threat to materialise. It suggests that, at best, the government is unable and/or unwilling to act to prevent this threat from occurring, and to arrest those propagating this threat and hate incitements against South Sudanese citizens who are delivering vital and life-saving services and aid to the very people threatening to kill them. However, at worst, we cannot discount that both the government in Juba and the state government in Bor are tacitly supportive of the uncouth actions of the Bor youth. The government’s record (through the tribal army and allied militia) on targeting and murdering non-Dinka ethnic groups in South Sudan speaks for itself.

We welcome the statement from the Jonglei State Government condemning the letter by Bor Youth. However, it has not gone far enough and failed to take action to arrest those behind the threat letter.

It is well-known that the recruitment practices of these NGOs and CBOs are generally transparent and meritocratic. The Equatorians currently working in Bor have been selected for the job based on merit. They are there to help the people of Bor, and have no intention of occupying the land or bullying the people of Bor, unlike what the government is encouraging the Dinka militia to do in Equatoria – using state resources and power. The hostility towards these innocent Equatorian humanitarian staff working with NGOs in Bor amounts to rejection of the work of all the international NGOs currently operating in Bor. We urge these NGOs and CBOs to suspend their operations if the government is unable to provide security for their staff.

These actions and behaviour are not without precedent. The recent arming and encouragement of the Bor youth (by elements in the government) to go and attack other ethnic groups, notably the Murle in and around Pibor and the Mundari, are still fresh in people’s minds. This orchestration of violence and destruction in Equatoria by rogue elements of Dinka Bor community in the SPLA and government is well-documented. Having been welcomed and accommodated in Equatoria as fellow compatriots following their displacement by the government in Khartoum during the long war of liberation, these rogue elements in the community proceeded to  forcefully occupy / expropriate land and bully and murder the locals – all this with the full support of high ranking members in the SPLM/A. They have continued to abuse and kill the indigenous people of Equatoria to this day, with full military support from the tribalized SPLA and allied militia. In summary, they have caused untold suffering on the people of Equatoria, including displacement and forcible expulsion into foreign lands. This government policy of forced occupation of land in Equatoria, and indeed other parts of South Sudan, guarantees perpetual conflict and enmity between the Dinka and Equatorians, and indeed all the ethnic groups in the country. No amount of reconciliation or national dialogue will resolve this problem and bring permanent peace until the situation is reversed.

Implications and the Way Forward

It is unacceptable that South Sudanese citizens who are providing life-saving aid and services, at great personal risk and sacrifice, are threatened in this way by the very community they are trying to serve. It is also apparent that the actions of the Bor youth are condoned and/or approved by the state government and, by extension, central government in Juba.

  1. We therefore request UNMISS to provide robust security to all Equatorian staff working with NGOs in Bor and other areas of South Sudan, and transport them back to Equatoria immediately if necessary.
  2. We also request that these NGOs suspend all their operations until the government takes action against the group that issued this letter and guarantees the safety of all their staff, irrespective of origin or ethnicity.

Signed by:

Mr. Federico Vuni, Chair, Equatoria Community Organisation in the UK,

On behalf of Equatoria Community Leaders in Diaspora; Email: federicovuni58@gmail.com

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