Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today condemned the Government of South Sudan’s decision to expel his Deputy Special Representative and the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, Toby Lanzer.
“The Secretary-General calls on the Government of South Sudan to reverse its decision immediately. He further urges the Government to cooperate fully with all United Nations entities present in South Sudan,” said a statement attributable to Mr. Ban’s spokesperson released today.Mr. Lanzer, who also is Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), has been “instrumental”, read the statement, in “addressing the increasing humanitarian needs of conflict-affected communities in the country,” and “ensuring that life-saving humanitarian assistance reaches the most vulnerable,” according to the statement.
“This has been necessary because of continuing violence by both parties in the absence of a comprehensive peace agreement.”
Mr. Lanzer was coming to the end of his term, and in order to ensure continuity for this critical function, the Secretary-General has already appointed his successor, Eugene Owusu, whose nomination was announced on 29 May.
South Sudan’s ongoing conflict began in December 2013 and has been marked by brutal violence against civilians and deepening suffering across the country. Some 119,000 people are sheltered in UN compounds there while the Organization estimates that the number of people in need for 2015 will include an anticipated 1.95 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and a projected 293,000 refugees.
In recent weeks, however, the fighting in the country has worsened considerably, with reports of widespread killings, rapes, abductions and the burning and destruction of towns and villages, particularly throughout South Sudan’s Unity state.
In addition, UN human rights monitors have been denied access to various sites in the State by members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM/A) as they sought to verify the allegations.