A U.N. panel of experts has warned that violence will likely “remain a feature of South Sudanese life for the foreseeable future” even if warring parties agree to end their conflict.
The experts shared their views with the Security Council last week.
They described South Sudan as an arms bazaar, with sophisticated weapons from outside flooding the country. This threatens the security of neighboring states, they warned.
They urged the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan as well as sanctions on decision-makers with the ability to either perpetuate or end the war, who reap the economic and political benefits of the conflict.
Imported arms originate in China, Sudan, Israel and other countries, but huge sums of money allocated to the war are also a threat to the recently signed peace agreement between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, now rebel leader, Riek Machar.
This year, the South Sudan government upped its spending on its military sector to $1.6 billion, the experts found.
Some of these weapons were used for a government offensive in the oil-producing Unity State between April and July this year “intent on rendering communal life unviable and prohibiting any return to normalcy following the violence,” the experts found.
“The intensity and brutality of violence aimed at civilians is hitherto unseen, in what has been so far — without a doubt — an incredibly violent conflict, where civilians have been targeted by all parties to the conflict,” the experts wrote in an interim reported submitted to U.N. Security Council members.
Meanwhile, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces say they will not pull out of South Sudan despite the peace deal signed by President Salva Kiir that directs all foreign troops to leave the country.
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Henry Oryem Okello, said UPDF presence in South Sudan is not bound by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad)-mediated peace agreement and cannot withdraw.
“We are not pulling out. Uganda is not part of the agreement. We have a bilateral arrangement with South Sudan government like US has troops stationed in Japan,” Minister Oryem said.
A restart of the partisan wars in South Sudan would be a heavy blow to the U.S. which made the country the third largest recipient of its aid since 2005 – $1.2 billion in 2014 – behind only Iraq and Afghanistan.