UNITED STATES: South Sudan’s government is spending oil revenue on weapons as the country descends into a famine largely caused by President Salva Kiir’s military campaign, a confidential UN report says.
The report obtained by AFP late Friday calls for an arms embargo on South Sudan -- a measure that has been backed by the United States but was rejected by the Security Council during a vote in December.
“Weapons continue to flow into South Sudan from diverse sources, often with the coordination of neighboring countries,” said the report by a UN panel of experts.
The experts found a “preponderance of evidence (that) shows continued procurement of weapons by the leadership in Juba” for the army, the security services, militias and other “associated forces.”
At least half -- “and likely substantially more” -- of its budget expenditures are devoted to security including arms purchases, the 48-page report said.
The government continued to sign arms deals as a famine was declared in Unity State, where 100,000 people are dying of starvation and a further one million people are near starvation.
“The bulk of evidence suggests that the famine in Unity State has resulted from protracted conflict and, in particular, the cumulative toll of repeated military operations undertaken by the government in southern Unity beginning in 2014,” said the report. The total number of South Sudanese facing famine could rise to 5.5 million in July if nothing is done to address the food crisis, the experts said.
The report was released ahead of a special Security Council meeting on South Sudan on Thursday that will be chaired by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. The panel cited information from high-ranking South Sudanese military and intelligence officers that Egypt had shipped military equipment, small arms, ammunition and armored vehicles to South Sudan over the past year.
Experts are investigating the delivery this year of two L39 jets from Ukraine that were sold to Uganda, but may have ended up in South Sudan, as well as a contract with a Seychelles-based company for a very large quantity of armaments.
In comparison, opposition forces have received limited supplies of light weapons ammunition, the report said.
While the previous US administration pushed for a ban on weapons sales, President Donald Trump’s government has yet to make clear its stance on ending one of Africa’s worst conflicts.