JUBA, Sudan – The army of Southern Sudan has been looting food convoys and carrying out other attacks on aid groups, officials of those groups alleged, and a top military officer warned Tuesday that the humanitarian groups could be expelled if the complaints get too "harsh."
The aid community in Southern Sudan documented 80 incidents of obstruction, vehicle hijackings or harassment of aid staff by southern troops since February. No aid staff have been killed, but several have been wounded.
International aid workers are worried that access to needy populations in a region already plagued by hunger may be further restricted as an independence referendum scheduled for January approaches. The vote would determine whether the south splits off from Sudan and forms a separate country. The UN says that 4 million people in Southern Sudan — roughly half the population — rely on food aid to survive.