Various News agencies, JUL/09/2016, SSN;
The confidential report points the finger at President Salva Kiir and army chief of staff Paul Malong as having ordered the large-scale attacks that began on July 8.
A UN panel of experts has concluded that heavy fighting that engulfed South Sudan’s capital Juba in July, forcing vice president and ex-rebel leader Riek Machar to flee, was “directed by the highest level” of the country’s military.
The confidential report seen by AFP on Thursday points the finger at President Salva Kiir and army chief of staff Paul Malong as having ordered the large-scale attacks that began on July 8.
“The relatively large scale of the hostilities which featured the deployment of MI-24 attack helicopters, in coordination with ground forces, reinforced by armed units, support the conclusion that the fighting was directed by the highest level of the SPLA command structure,” said the report.
In the report, the experts quoted South Sudanese officers as saying that only Kiir and Malong have the authority to order the attack helicopters into combat and that Malong acted “with Kiir’s full knowledge” during the offensive.
The finding dismissed suggestions that the violence in Juba, which led to the collapse of a fragile unity government cobbled together from a year-old peace deal, was carried out by rogue elements.
More than 300 people died in the fighting from July 8 to 11, tens of thousands fled the country, and the United Nations reported a surge in sexual violence, mostly by the ethnic Dinka-dominated soldiers against Nuer women and girls.
The two-and-a-half year conflict has escalated from a “primarily political to a tribal war,” said the report.
Attack on aid workers ‘well-coordinated’
The panel found that dozens of soldiers gang-raped and beat aid workers in a “well-coordinated attack” on a Juba housing compound on July 11.
Over four hours, between 80 and 100 soldiers overran the Terrain compound, beat and abused, raped and gang-raped at least five international aid workers and executed an employee of a non-governmental organization.
“The soldiers damaged every single room, and looted the compound extensively, taking over 25 vehicles,” the panel said.
“Considering the degree of violence inflicted, the high number of armed actors who participated, the vast quantity of items stolen and the systematic damage exacted on the sprawling compound, the panel has concluded that this attack was well coordinated and cannot be considered as an opportunistic act of violence and robbery,” it added.
The panel described the attack as a “clear turning point in the level brutality inflicted by South Sudanese soldiers on international humanitarian personnel,” it added.
A separate UN investigation has been established to report on whether UN peacekeepers failed to protect civilians including the aid workers at the Terrain compound who sent several text messages to the UN mission pleading for help.
The experts said arms sales to South Sudan’s military were continuing, citing the recent purchase of two L-39 jet fighters, one of which was used in combat operations in July.
Kiir’s government has entered into contact with a Lebanese-registered firm, Rawmatimpex, to build a small arms manufacturing plant in South Sudan, but the outcome of those talks are unclear, according to the panel.
South Sudan descended into war in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup.
Tens of thousands have died and more than 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes.
South Sudanese government forces have acquired two jet fighters and truckloads of small arms ammunition and were seeking to manufacture bullets, UN sanctions monitors said in a confidential report seen by Reuters news agency.
The report on arms flows and security threats to South Sudan added that opposition troops have not received any significant arms shipments from abroad.
The monitors also said that armed government actors were imposing “debilitating movement restrictions” on UN peacekeepers.
They warned that the economy of the world’s newest nation had effectively collapsed because of government policies that included buying weapons instead of funding social services.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Juba, said that the report is likely to anger those who should benefit from social services, which are already underfunded.
“South Sudan’s economy has been in freefall since it floated its currency against the dollar in December last year,” she said.
“Half of South Sudan’s population live beneath the poverty line, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. South Sudan’s consumer price index is up 700 percent from this time last year. It is difficult for ordinary civilians to get food from the market.
“Some civil servants can earn as little as two or three dollars per month, which makes it hard for them to be be able to sustain their families.”
More than 200,000 people rely on humanitarian assistance, Morgan added.
The report strengthens the case for an arms embargo, a move recommended by the monitors to the Security Council in January. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also called for an arms embargo.
“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.”
The report said that 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”.
However, the monitors received reports that government troops have made significant, ongoing arms procurements, including the likely recent acquisition of two L-39 fighter jets.
“While the panel has received preliminary reports from two sources that the jets were serviced and painted in Uganda, the panel has not yet been able to confirm their origin or if these jets have been purchased or are on loan,” the monitors said.
Two truckloads of ammunition were transferred to the capital, Juba, from Uganda in June, while late last year South Sudanese army chief Paul Malong asked a Lebanese company to begin developing a small arms ammunition manufacturing facility in Juba, the monitors said.
“It is not clear from currently available information whether this project has proceeded in the intervening period,” they added.
A Czech Air Force L-39C
Role Military trainer aircraft
Light ground-attack aircraft
Manufacturer Aero Vodochody
Designer Jan Vlcek
First flight 4 November 1968
Introduction 28 March 1972 with the Czechoslovak Air Force
Status Out of production, in active use with various air forces
Primary users Soviet Air Force
Czechoslovak Air Force
Libyan Air Force
Syrian Air Force
Number built 2,900
Developed from Aero L-29 Delfín
Variants Aero L-39NG
Developed into Aero L-59 Super Albatros
Aero L-159 Alca
Talk of arms embargo
In the wake of deadly violence in Juba in July, the council said it would discuss an arms embargo if Ban reports this month that the government was not cooperating with the deployment of 4,000 more peacekeepers and was obstructing 12,000 UN troops already on the ground.
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, between 80 and 100 uniformed soldiers overran Juba’s Hotel Terrain compound, home to the staff of international organisations, 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 that given the number of soldiers involved, the number of items stolen and the systematic damage inflicted, “this attack was well coordinated and cannot be considered as an opportunistic act of violence and robbery”.
The UN Security Council has long threatened to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan after the country spiralled into civil war in 2013, but veto powers Russia and China are wary that such a move would benefit opposition fighters because it would be harder to monitor them than to police the government.
The Security Council set up a targeted sanctions regime for South Sudan in March 2015, then in July blacklisted six generals – three from each side of the conflict – by subjecting them to an asset freeze and travel ban.
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.
The monitors said in the report – which was requested by the Security Council – that “the actions and policies of the two major parties” pose the most severe security threats to the peace deal and the transitional government.
“The focus of many of the central military and political figures on mobilising their respective tribes has continued to escalate the conflict from a primarily political to a tribal war,” the monitors said. END