South Sudan removes taxes that triggered suspension of UN food airdrops

South Sudan removes taxes that triggered suspension of UN food airdrops
South Sudan removed taxes and fees that triggered UN food airdrops to be suspended when thousands of people depend on aid from outside the region.
2 min read
Thousands of people in South Sudan depend on aid from the outside [GETTY]

Following an appeal from the United Nations, South Sudan removed recently imposed taxes and fees that had triggered the suspension of UN food airdrops. Thousands of people in the country depend on aid from the outside.

Earlier this week, the UN urged South Sudanese authorities to remove the new taxes introduced in February. The measures applied to charges for electronic cargo tracking, security escort fees and fuel.

In its announcement on Friday, the government said it was keeping charges on services rendered by firms contracted by the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

“These companies are profiting …(and) are subjected to applicable tax,” Finance Minister Awow Daniel Chuang said.

There was no immediate comment from the UN on when the airdrops could resume.

Earlier, the UN Humanitarian Affairs Agency said the pausing of airdrops had deprived 60,000 people who live in areas inaccessible by road of desperately needed food in March. Their number is expected to rise to 135,000 by the end of May.

The UN said the new measures would have increased the mission's monthly operational costs to $339,000. The UN food air drops feed over 16,300 people every month.

At the United Nations in New York, UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said the taxes and charges would also impact the nearly 20,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, “which is reviewing all of its activities, including patrols, the construction of police stations, schools and health care centres, as well as educational support.”

An estimated 9 million people out of 12.5 million people in South Sudan need protection and humanitarian assistance, according to the UN. The country has also seen an increase in the number of people fleeing the war in neighbouring Sudan between the rival military and paramilitary forces, further complicating humanitarian assistance to those affected by the internal conflict.