According to South Sudanese and international media, the government of South Sudan has announced their intention to replace all foreign workers with locals by October 15th.
“This is very concerning news, and if correct this could have very serious consequences for the people of South Sudan”, said Liv Tørres, Secretary General of Norwegian People’s Aid.
The message came from South Sudanese government officials in a circular this weekend. It remains unclear if the order concerns specific positions listed in the circular or foreign workers in general.
“We assume this order is issued on account of South Sudan’s high unemployment rates, and a need to nationalize the work force”, said Tørres.
“We agree that there should be an increased nationalization, but if they go through with this plan, the consequences for the South Sudanese will be catastrophic. There are four million people in South Sudan today who are in need of emergency aid, the worst food crisis in the world according to the UN. A drastic nationalization of the work force will affect the distribution of emergency aid in this very critical period”, said Tørres.
In addition, the conflict in South Sudan has developed ethnic dimensions, and consequently the UN and international NGOs have needed to hire more foreign workers in order to avoid accusations of ethnic bias.
Norwegian People’s Aid has about 30 foreign employees in South Sudan, most of them from neighboring countries. 2 of them are Norwegian. The organization is one of the largest employers in South Sudan, with about 800 local employees.
“We are one of the organizations who have come the furthest in terms of nationalizing the work force. The reason for this is that we have worked in the country for a very long time, and that capacity building and training of local employees is part of our program”, said Tørres.
While NPA are building local capacity, there will still be a need for foreign employees in key positions for some time to come.
“We will happily engage in dialogue with the South Sudanese government about increasing the nationalization in the workforce, but this should be part of a sensible, long-term plan”, said Tørres.For more information, please contact Head of International Unit Kathrine Raadim at (+47) 911 31 844