On Monday, April 23, Watchlist launched “Every One and Everything Is a Target” The Impact on Children of Attacks on Health Care and Denial of Humanitarian Access in South Sudan at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The report focuses on attacks and denials of access carried out across South Sudan in 2016 and 2017. Watchlist conducted research for the report in five South Sudanese refugee settlements in northern Uganda in September 2017 and in Juba, South Sudan, in December 2017.
Watchlist found that parties to the conflict, including the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) attacked medical facilities and personnel and repeatedly denied humanitarian access throughout South Sudan as tactics of war. Watchlist also found that attacks and denials of access have compounded challenges to children’s health, already exacerbated by years of armed conflict. Millions of South Sudanese are unable to access health care, either due to insecurity, lack of availability due to temporary or permanent closures resultant from attacks, or immobility during the rainy season, which makes many roads impassable.
Watchlist makes a number of recommendations in the report, including that Secretary-General Guterres list in the 2018 annual report on children and armed conflict the SPLA and SPLA-IO as responsible for attacks on hospitals, in accordance with Resolution 1998; and that Member States implement policies that render funding for reconstruction and other development projects contingent upon unhindered humanitarian access, removal of bureaucratic impediments, and improved security. With this in mind, Watchlist welcomes the announcement made by the United States on May 8 that it will initiate a comprehensive review of assistance programs to South Sudan, in order to ensure that US assistance does not contribute to or prolong the conflict, or facilitate corruption.
The report is the third in Watchlist’s series of reports focused on attacks on health care. In March 2017 and April 2017 Watchlist launched reports focused respectively on attacks on health care in Afghanistan and Yemen and released updates to these reports in February and March of this year.
Watchlist has conducted advocacy on the report’s findings and recommendations in New York and Washington DC.