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Aid access restrictions by gov’t leads to over 160 deaths – UN

IDPs at the St. Mary Help of Christians Cathedral in Wau | Photo | waudiocese

The United Nations has accused the government of obstructing delivery of aid in Wau State, leading to the death of more 160 people from hunger and diseases.

In a confidential report by the UN sanctions monitors to the Security Council, the government is said to have used food as a weapon of war to target civilians by blocking life-saving aid.

According to Reuters news agency, the U.N. monitors said a military campaign in 2016 and 2017 by government troops in the northwestern town of Wau and surrounding areas in Wau displaced thousands.

The report indicates that denial of aid had caused extreme food insecurity among the population, with malnutrition and death by starvation the documented outcome, in particular in the Greater Baggari area.

“These actions amount to using food as a weapon of war with the intent to inflict suffering on civilians the government views as opponents to its agenda,” Reuters quoted the report.

The news website said one humanitarian assessment mission told the U.N. monitors that 164 young children and elderly had died from hunger and disease between January and September 2017.

The UN report also indicates that villages had been looted and burned and crops destroyed

The confidential report was presented to the UN Security Council of Friday.

The governor of Wau, Angelo Taban, who is the head of security in the state is yet to comment on the accusations.

Last month, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said aid organizations had finally reached IDPs in Baggari in Wau, after a year of access constraint.

It said teams on the ground witnessed significantly high malnutrition and there is an ongoing response.

Other priority needs of the displaced people include health care, clean water, and non-food items.

Last week, President Salva Kiir issued a decree, ordering free unimpeded and unhindered movement of humanitarian organizations in the country.

According to the decree broadcast on the state-run SSBC television on Thursday, all roadblocks must be cleared immediately.

The decree also warned that anybody who obstructs the delivery of the humanitarian aid and services or imposes taxes on humanitarian convoys shall be held accountable.