South Sudanese security forces are deliberately blocking people from leaving the country in violation of their right to freedom of movement, Amnesty International can reveal.
The organization has received reports from two charter companies that National Security Service officers have ordered them not to carry South Sudanese nationals, particularly men. It has also been told by an NGO that one of its South Sudanese staff was prevented from boarding a flight to Entebbe, Uganda.
“This arbitrary conduct by the South Sudanese security forces is totally unacceptable. South Sudan must respect people’s right to freedom of movement, including the right to leave their own country,” said Elizabeth Deng, Amnesty International’s South Sudan Researcher.
“It is absolutely critical that both parties to the conflict do not obstruct safe passage of civilians fleeing to places of refuge both inside and outside of the country.”
Thousands of South Sudanese people have reportedly gathered at the country’s southern border seeking to enter into Uganda, but they are also being prevented from crossing over.
Juba International Airport was reopened on Tuesday after a ceasefire was announced to end days of fighting between rival armed forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar, which left hundreds of people dead and thousands displaced.
Charter and evacuation flights have been leaving since the airport reopened, but commercial flights have only resumed today.