De­spite sanc­tions­dan stays armed for war

The Gulf Today - - MIDDLE EAST -

NAIROBI: De­spite long-stand­ing re­stric­tions, new weapons have con­tin­ued to reach South Su­dan’s bat­tleields, of­ten via neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, a de­tailed re­port by an arms mon­i­tor­ing group said on Thurs­day.

A four-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion, by Lon­don-based Conlict Ar­ma­ment Re­search (CAR), into the sup­ply of weapons that have helped keep South Su­dan’s civil war alive since De­cem­ber 2013, has re­vealed the im­por­tant role played by neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly Uganda, in cir­cum­vent­ing arms em­bar­goes.

While the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil did not im­pose an arms em­bargo on South Su­dan un­til July 2018, more than four years into a war that has killed an es­ti­mated 380,000 peo­ple, the EU has banned di­rect sales of weapons by mem­ber states to Su­dan since 1994, amend­ing the em­bargo to in­clude newly-in­de­pen­dent South Su­dan in 2011.

Nev­er­the­less, the gov­ern­ment army — known as the SPLA, or Su­dan Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army — has been kept well supplied with weaponry, of­ten fun­nelled through Uganda and some­times orig­i­nat­ing from Europe or the US.

The rebel SPLA-IO (SPLA In Op­po­si­tion) has had less suc­cess in sourc­ing weapons, the re­searchers found, re­ly­ing heav­ily on scaveng­ing arms.

CAR ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor James Bevan said his group’s “com­pre­hen­sive, on-the-ground sur­vey of the weaponry used” in­cluded doc­u­ment­ing hun­dreds of weapons and more than 200,000 bul­lets.

“The re­sult is a foren­sic pic­ture of how pro­hi­bi­tions on arms trans­fers to the war­ring par­ties have failed,” he said.

CAR found that, de­spite numer­ous al­le­ga­tions and ru­mours, no new Chi­nese weapons reached South Su­dan af­ter May 2014, six months into the war.

Nev­er­the­less, two large ship­ments of Chi­nese weapons to Juba, via Mom­basa in Kenya, while le­gal due to the lack of any arms em­bargo, en­sured the SPLA was well-supplied for the on­go­ing civil war: the ship­ments in­cluded more than 27 mil­lion rounds of small-cal­i­bre am­mu­ni­tion, as well as rock­ets, grenades, mis­siles, pis­tols as­sault riles and ma­chine guns.

CAR found that, while Chi­nese am­mu­ni­tion had pre­vi­ously ac­counted for “less than two per­cent” of bul­lets in cir­cu­la­tion in South Su­dan, once the ship­ments ar­rived over half the am­mu­ni­tion in use was Chi­nese.

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