Juba, December 9, 2016 (SSNA) — South Sudanese government has detained and expelled the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the group said in a statement.
Victor Moses, NRC’s Country Director in South Sudan, was picked up at his office by South Sudan National Security’s agents and detained him for more than 24 hours, according to NRC’s internal memo seen by the South Sudan News Agency.
“The expulsion of our Country Director is a serious setback to our humanitarian work for civilians in dire need of support,” NRC’s Secretary General, Jan Egeland, said.
Egeland says South Sudanese should focus on ending the ongoing conflict instead of impeding humanitarian work to help suffering South Sudanese, adding that the expulsion of Moses presents bad example for the international humanitarian community in the war-ravaged young nation.
“The government should prioritize to bring an end to the violence that has displaced more than 3 million of its citizens – one million of whom are now refugees in neighbouring countries. To undermine our relief to vulnerable citizens’ is an affront to the international humanitarian community in South Sudan,” the statement further explained.
Adding that “This may negatively impact the ability for humanitarian organisations at large to operate in South Sudan. The victims of this decision are people in need.”
NRC said its top official is unharmed and is now in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
The Norwegian Refugee Council, which has been operating in South Sudan since 2004, is calling on South Sudanese government to reverse its decision and to cooperate fully with all international humanitarian organizations.
South Sudan been waging an expulsion campaign. On Tuesday, it forcefully deported an American freelance journalist working for the Associated Press (AP).