Euro­pean arms add fuel to fire of South Su­dan con­flict

The National - News - - WORLD - SOFIA BARBARANI

Thou­sands of weapons have reached South Su­dan from Europe, breach­ing sanc­tions and fu­elling one of the world’s blood­i­est con­flicts, ac­cord­ing to a four-year foren­sic study by Con­flict Ar­ma­ment Re­search.

The re­port pub­lished on Thurs­day is based on a data set of 128 weapons, 201,517 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion and other mil­i­tary mu­ni­tions – all of which have con­trib­uted to the killing of about 400,000 peo­ple and the dis­place­ment of more than four mil­lion.

The land­locked coun­try gained in­de­pen­dence from Su­dan in 2011, only to be­come em­broiled in a civil war two years later when Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir Ma­yardit fell out with his vice pres­i­dent, Riek Machar. Fight­ing, famine and a fail­ing econ­omy have since be­set the world’s youngest state.

In the lat­est peace deal struck in Septem­ber, Mr Machar re­turned as Mr Kiir’s deputy for the first time in two years – a pre­vi­ous at­tempt at that ar­range­ment failed amid new fight­ing in July 2016. But the US and oth­ers have said they are scep­ti­cal about the lat­est deal, bro­kered by Uganda and Su­dan.

In July, the UN im­posed an arms em­bargo on the coun­try and eight lead­ers and com­man­ders were sub­jected to in­di­vid­ual sanc­tions.

But im­punity con­tin­ues to fuel abuses in the con­flict, Hu­man Rights Watch said.

Ac­cord­ing to the Car re­port, small arms and am­mu­ni­tion ear­marked for neigh­bour­ing Uganda were redi­rected to South Su­dan and into the hands of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army. A US mil­i­tary jet and an Aus­trian-made spy plane were also de­liv­ered to the SPLA.

Although there is no ev­i­dence the EU coun­tries in­volved – Bul­garia, Ro­ma­nia and Slo­vakia – knew the arms were headed to Juba, it high­lights the flaws in the over­sight of arms ex­ports.

With the Bul­gar­ian weapons, “South Su­dan ar­ranged for Uganda to is­sue end-user cer­tifi­cates ... to make it look like these weapons were for the use of the Ugan­dan armed forces when, in fact, they were al­ways des­tined for South Su­dan”, said Mike Lewis, the head of re­gional op­er­a­tions for Car.

The re­port de­scribes how a net­work of “jointly owned Ugan­dan and US com­pa­nies – con­trolled by British, Is­raeli, Ugan­dan, and US na­tion­als – pro­cured a mil­i­tary jet from the US and an Aus­trian-made sur­veil­lance air­craft, which one of these com­pa­nies de­liv­ered into ser­vice with [South Su­dan’s mil­i­tary]”.

While the arms em­bargo con­tin­ues to be breached, unchecked mili­tias rule, law­less and armed, killing civil­ians and per­pet­u­at­ing the coun­try’s cy­cle of vi­o­lence, the re­port said.

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