Home Main Story South Sudan Aid Workers Recount their Detention by SPLA-IO Soldiers

South Sudan Aid Workers Recount their Detention by SPLA-IO Soldiers

SPLA-IO Soldiers

Four humanitarian workers were arrested by the opposition SPLM-IO forces before being freed in Baggari Payam of Wau County, Western Bahr el Ghazal State, on Tuesday.

Lina Ferdinand, a Chief Executive Officer for Women Training and Promotion (WATAP), said on Wednesday that she and three members of her team were detained in Bringi Boma of Baggari Payam while travelling to Ugali Boma, where they are building a health facility.

“We have a construction through support from UNMISS’s Quick Impact Project in Ugali there, and while we were going for a monitoring visit, we were stopped in Bringi and taken to custody in Baggari under the order of an SPLA-IO field commander called General Benson Joseph,” she revealed.

Lina said they were released later after paying 250,000 SSP.

 “When we were stopped in Bringi, they read a document that it was an arrest warrant issued against me, and there was no single crime I committed against them. The arrest warrant was issued by General Benson Joseph, saying I should be detained until he came and I should not be subjected to torture. I was detained for more than two hours till I was released after paying 250,000 SSP as 10 percent of the facility that we are constructing in the area,” she said.

 “The way we were detained in Bringi was very bad. I was in a car when we were stopped and later called down one by one before four of us were taken to a cell in Baggari. I was treated like a criminal because I was being questioned at gunpoint,” she said.

Reacting to the humanitarian workers’ arrest by SPLA-IO forces, Stephen Robo Musa, a civil society activist in Western Bahr el Ghazal, condemned the brief detention of the aid workers.

 “What happened to Lina Ferdinan and her team is a violation of the free movement of humanitarian workers. This is harassment to the NGOs in the state,” said Musa.

“These are things that we as civil society cannot tolerate to happen. If there are issues linked to personalities who are working for humanitarian organizations should be addressed in appropriate ways,” he stressed.

The activist called for accountability for what happened to the four humanitarian workers in the Baggari area.

SPLA-IO commanders in the area could not immediately be reached for comment. 

South Sudan is among the most dangerous places in the world for humanitarians, according to OCHA. Nine aid workers were killed last year.

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