In February, 110 humanitarian access incidents were reported, of which close to half involved violence (48 per cent). Forty of these were incidents of violence against humanitarian personnel. Twenty-four out of 30 incidents in Central Equatoria involved violence against personnel or assets. Thirty-one per cent of the incidents were attributed to criminals/unknown, compared to 18 per cent in December 2017 and 34 per cent in January. The number of incidents involving operational interference more than tripled, from 11 in January to 37 in February, as authorities continued to interfere in operations, procurement and staff recruitment, as well as illegal taxation, threats, intimidation and harassment of aid workers. Of the organisations reported as being affected by these incidents, international NGOs featured highest at 43 per cent, the UN at 39 per cent and national NGOs at 18 per cent.
In Bentiu, civilians forced the closure of a nutrition facility for several days, affecting delivery of services to nearly 5,400 children and pregnant mothers in the PoC site. On February 26, a joint assessment team of 29 humanitarians, from three aid agencies, was detained by SPLA-iO forces in Baggari, Wau County. The aid workers were released a day later unharmed, though the incident is indicative of continued access challenges in Baggari, where 25,000 are in need. In Upper Nile, authorities in Ulang expelled senior humanitarian staff from the county, where partners had in January undertaken a mission to address concerns over bureaucratic impediments being imposed. Over 71,000 people are in need of assistance and protection in Ulang and Nasir counties. In Akobo, food distribution targeting nearly 10,000 displaced people and a livestock vaccination exercise were suspended due to armed clashes. Transporters hauling humanitarian cargo from El Obeid (Sudan) and Juba to Bentiu complained of increased harassment by the armed forces at checkpoints.