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South Sudan: Heads of Mission express concern over NGO and RRC Bills

The European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of Denmark, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, The United Kingdom and the Heads of Mission of Canada, Japan, Norway and Switzerland issue the following statement in South Sudan:

The Heads of Mission express their grave concern at the potential consequences of the passing of the Non-governmental Organisations Bill, and the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission Bill in Parliament on 2 February.

The Heads of Mission accept that regulation of the non-governmental sector can be a positive development in any country. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) should be transparent and accountable. The Heads of Mission however have significant concerns that in their current form these bills could restrict the operation of NGOs who are providing life-saving services to the people of South Sudan. Restricting the work of NGOs could have a significant negative impact on the people of South Sudan.

Humanitarian assistance must be delivered in full to those in need. In this connection, the Heads of Mission note the Communique from the 55th IGAD Council of Ministers, which demands immediate action by the parties to ensure unconditional humanitarian access across the country to avert further crisis and tragedy.

The Heads of Mission note that the NGO Bill is due to be reviewed by the Transitional Government of National Unity, involving a process of public consultation ensuring that such legislation complies with international best practice in regulating the activities of NGOs in South Sudan. The Transitional Government of National Unity is also tasked with supervising the reforms and reconstitution of existing commissions and committees including the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission. The Heads of Mission will continue to follow these issues closely.

The Heads of Mission look forward to the prompt establishment of the Transitional Government of National Unity and working closely with it to implement all aspects of the Agreement to Resolve the Conflict in South Sudan.