Relief workers are outraged at the state, despite operating in ways that exacerbate the problems they entered the country to remedy.
South Sudan has hiked work permit fees 100-fold for “professional” foreign aid workers to US$10,000, officials said, as the war-ravaged country is struggling with the political implications of an influx of famine aid.
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The world’s youngest nation has been mired in civil war since 2013, when President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar, sparking a conflict that has increasingly split the country along ethnic lines. The U.N. recently declared the world’s first famine in six years, affecting up to half of the the South Sudanese population.
After non-profits were found breaking the NGO Act that required them to hire locals, South Sudan will charge US$10,000 for foreigners working in a “professional” capacity, US$2,000 for “blue collar” employees and US$1,000 for “casual workers” from March 1, the labor ministry said in a decree. The plan still has to be approved by the Ministry of Finance.
Humanitarian workers have been questioned for the role they play in exacerbating ethnic division and helping perpetrate political repression of the local population. They say they often face restrictions in South Sudan; in December, Juba expelled the country director of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
An IRIN News report published last week pointed out that aid groups “have consciously privileged humanitarianism over alternative action – to the detriment of peace, security and justice efforts that might actually address the causes of the aid crisis.”