Tag Archives: South Sudan civil war 2013-2016

When the State is the Gang

In South Sudan “There is a confirmed pattern of how combatants attack villages, plunder homes, take women as sexual slaves and then set homes alight often with people in them,” commented Commission Chairperson Yasmin Sooka.  “Rapes, gang rapes, sexual mutilation, abductions and sexual slavery, as well as killings, have become commonplace in South Sudan. There is no doubt that these crimes are persistent because impunity is so entrenched that every kind of norm is broken,” she added.

UNICEF reports that 25 per cent of those targeted by sexual violence are children, including the rapes of girls as young as 7. Elderly and pregnant women have also been raped. The Commission also received reports of male victims of sexual violence. Sexual and gender-based violence against men and boys is even more underreported than that against women and girls as there is a greater level of stigma. There are even reports of raping and killing of the young and the elderly.

The Commission has also looked at the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). From January 2018 to 2019, seven such cases involving 18 alleged UNMISS perpetrators were registered in the UN Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Database. 

The oil producing areas of the country have become increasingly militarized by Government forces, including by the National Security Services, which have expanded their involvement in the oil sector. The state-owned Nilepet oil company’s operations have been characterized by a total lack of transparency and independent oversight, allegedly diverting oil revenues into the coffers of elites in the government. Furthermore, oil revenues, and income from other natural resources such as illegal teak logging, have continued to fund the war, enabling its continuation and the resulting human rights violations. 

Outraged by renewed fighting and continuing human rights violations in South Sudan, UN Human Rights Experts urge all parties to stop conflict, end impunity and respect provisions of the revitalized peace agreement, UN Human Rights Council, Press Release, Feb. 20, 2019

When Thugs Become States

South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s government is using food as a weapon of war to target civilians by blocking life-saving aid in some areas, United Nations sanctions monitors told the Security Council in a confidential report (November 2017).  During 2016 and 2017, the UN monitors said a military campaign by government troops in Wau and surrounding areas in Western Bahr el-Ghazal targeted civilians on ethnic grounds and displaced more than 100,000.

“The government has during much of 2017 deliberately prevented life-saving food assistance from reaching some citizens,” the monitors wrote. “These actions amount to using food as a weapon of war with the intent to inflict suffering on civilians the government views as opponents to its agenda.”

One humanitarian assessment mission told UN monitors 164 young children and elderly died from hunger and disease between January and September 2017.

Excerpts  Food used as weapon of war in South Sudan, Reuters, Nov. 13,  2017

South Sudan as a State

“There is no evidence to suggest that more weapons are required in South Sudan for the government to achieve a stable security environment,” the UN monitors said. “Rather, the continued influx of weapons … contributes to spreading instability and the continuation of the conflict.”

They said while Sudan had provided small arms, bullets and logistical support to opposition troops, they “found no evidence to date that Sudan – or any other neighbouring country – has provided heavy weapons … which has limited the opposition’s ability to mount large-scale operations.”

Two truckloads of ammunition were transferred to the capital Juba from Uganda in June 2016, while in 2015 South Sudanese army chief Paul Malong asked a Lebanese company to begin developing a small ‘arms ammunition manufacturing facility in Juba, the monitors said.

A UN peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) has been in South Sudan since the country gained independence from Sudan in 2011.The UN monitors said that in rhetoric and action, government-affiliated forces “have actively threatened the operations and personnel of UNMISS and other UN agencies, and both parties have continued to target humanitarian workers.”

During the violence in July 2016, between 80 and 100 uniformed soldiers overran Juba’s Hotel Terrain compound, home to the staff of international organizations, and in four hours killed an ethnic Nuer journalist and raped at least five foreign aid workers and other staff working at the compound, the monitors said.The monitors said given the number of soldiers involved, the number of items stolen and the systematic damage inflicted, “this attack was well co-ordinated and cannot be considered as an opportunistic act of violence and robbery.”,,,

A political rivalry between President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and opposition leader Riek Machar, a Nuer, sparked the civil war. The pair signed a shaky peace deal a year ago, but fighting has continued. Machar fled the country after the violence between their troops erupted in July 2016

Excerpts South Sudan buying arms as economy collapses – UN panel, Reuters, Sept, 9 2016