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Baggari Commissioner rejects UN report

UNSC's Ambassador Samantha Power meets IDPs in Wau during her 4-day visit to South Sudan in Sept. 2017.

The report by the UN sanction monitors that the government has been obstructing delivery of aid in Baggari in Wau State is baseless, according to the County Commissioner.

In a confidential report to the Security Council obtained by the Reuters news agency, the monitors said the government had been using food as a weapon of war to target civilians by blocking life-saving aid since last year.

In the report, the hindrance is said to have contributed to the death of more160 children and the elderly from hunger and diseases.

It also indicated that villages had been looted and burned and crops destroyed.

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.

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, they added.

“This report is baseless because I’m the one cooperating with the humanitarians and suppose if there are things that are happening like that, they should report to me because there is nothing like that which took place in Baggari that people died because of hunger,” Taban John told Eye Radio.

“If this report was to be there, I would have known it from the humanitarians operating in Baggari.”

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.

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