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JUBA - 23 Mar 2023

Wounded soldiers storm finance ministry, protest unpaid allowances

War wounded paraded in the independence celebrations in 2011 (Getty images)
War wounded paraded in the independence celebrations in 2011 (Getty images)

Scores of SSPDF soldiers who were injured in battles, also known as wounded heroes, on Tuesday closed ranks and charged the finance ministry headquarters in Juba to demand the expeditious payment of their medical allowances.

Agok Makur Kur, the Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning, told Radio Tamazuj on Thursday that the soldiers stormed the ministry on Tuesday, demanding their medical allowances amounting to USD 10 million.

“The day before yesterday (Tuesday), they (wounded soldiers) came to the building of the ministry of finance looking for their claims (medical allowance),” he said. “They are demanding 10 million U.S. dollars which the ministry pays in instalments from time to time.”

 According to Makur, this is not the first time the soldiers have stormed the finance ministry for their dues.

“It is not the first time for them to come to the ministry of finance but arrangements are already underway between the ministries of finance and defense to follow up on their claim,” he said.

The deputy minister urged government ministries, departments and other institutions that have money with his ministry to send representatives to follow it up.

 “What they are demanding from the ministry of finance is not salary but money for treatment,” Makur said. “I am not against people following up on their claims, but it is the policy of the finance ministry to accept one to two people from each ministry or agency to follow up on behalf of the institution instead of all the people coming to the ministry.”

For his part, Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, the spokesman of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) said their servicemen didn’t use the right procedure to demand their medical allowances.

“That was not the right procedure. What normally happens is that whenever a veteran serviceman feels sick, he takes a sick report from our clinic, goes for a medical check-up and the results are presented to our doctor, and an assessment of how much it will cost for him to be treated locally or abroad and when that assessment is made, a request is presented to the administration and forwarded to the chief of defense forces and then to the minister of defense. Afterwards, the minister of defense refers the request for the funds to the ministry of finance,” Gen. Lul said.

“And when that fund is approved, it comes back (to the ministry of defense), and it is distributed to beneficiaries. So the procedures they took were not the right procedures, but it has been happening from time to time, especially when their request is delayed,” Lul added.

The army spokesman urged the soldiers to be patient to allow the right people within the ministry of defense to follow up on their concerns with the ministry of finance.

“They should be patient, and whenever they are feeling impatient, they should present it to the command so that the command follows the right procedures,” he concluded.