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South Sudan arms embargo being violated, UN says

Date of publication: 13 November, 2018

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A UN panel's report has noted violations of South Sudan's arms embargo, however has said that it is too early to judge the measure's success.

A UN panel of experts has found violations of the arms embargo imposed on South Sudan, reporting to the Security Council that there are "alarming levels" of sexual violence, hunger and human rights abuses in the war-scarred country.

The panel's 29-page report seen by AFP on Monday was the first to be released since the arms embargo was narrowly adopted by the Security Council in July, under strong pressure from the United States.

Despite noting violations, the panel said it was too early to assess its full impact of the embargo, which seeks to cut off the flow of weapons after nearly five years of brutal war in South Sudan.

The report said "a number of violations have been noted by the panel", which is also investigating foreign private security firms providing training in Juba to the national police and the army.

The experts noted that neighbouring Sudan deployed troops to protect oil fields in Unity State, while Uganda sent forces to South Sudan, notably in Central and Eastern Equatoria states.

The arms embargo bans military assistance and training.

The report added that the panel is investigating "other allegations of transport of weapons into South Sudan, in violation of the arms embargo".

South Sudan descended into war in late 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused his former vice president Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

A US-funded study released in September put the death toll from the war to at least 382,9000, far higher than previous estimates and more than in the conflict in Syria.

Despite a peace deal signed in September, the UN experts said they observed "alarming levels of sexual and gender-based violence, food insecurity and grave human rights abuses, including against children."

The deal led to Machar's return to Juba nearly two weeks ago to serve as vice president, among a series of measures aimed at ending the war.

The panel described the latest agreement as "a significant moment in efforts to bring an end to the conflict in South Sudan," noting that the leaders of Uganda and Sudan had stepped up their involvement in a regional peace push led by Ethiopia.

The experts cautioned that there were "serious challenges" to the deal, pointing to the myriad of armed groups apparently ignoring commitments from their leaders.

The Security Council is scheduled to discuss South Sudan on Friday.

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