Severe food shortage has deteriorated into a full-blown famine in South Sudan. However, the government is spending its oil revenue heavily on weapons instead of addressing the starvation in the country.
The report by a United Nations panel of experts, which calls for an arms embargo in South Sudan, states “weapons continue to flow into South Sudan from diverse sources, often with the coordination of neighbouring countries.
The arms embargo has been backed by the United States but was rejected by the Security Council during a vote in December.
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.UN Experts report
Over 95 percent of South Sudan’s budget revenue derives from forward sales of oil. From late March to late October 2016, oil revenues totalled about $243 million, according to calculations from the panel. At least half – “and likely substantially more” – of its budget expenditures are devoted to security including arms purchases, the 48-page report said.
The panel, quoting high-ranking South Sudanese military and intelligence officers, said that Egypt had shipped military equipment, small arms, ammunition and armoured 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.
One of the major reasons behind the famine is attributed to President Salva Kiir’s military campaign. An upsurge in fighting since July has devastated food production in areas that had been stable for farmers, such as the Equatorial region, considered the country’s breadbasket.
The bulk of evidence suggests that famine in the 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 2014UN Report
Head of the World Food Program in South Sudan, Joyce Luma, also called the famine “man-made,” blaming it on political turmoil in a country engulfed in civil war since late 2013.
However, the government continued to sign arms deals as a famine was declared, where over 100,000 people are dying of starvation and a further 1.5 million people are near starvation.
The report, which was released ahead of a special Security Council meeting on South Sudan on Thursday, also alleged that government is blocking access for humanitarian aid workers in the region.
After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and 3.5 million people displaced.