Use of starvation as a weapon of destruction in South Sudan

To: The Chair of IGAD-Plus, C/o H.E Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
 The President, UN Security Council
 African Union
CC European Union

From: South Sudanese Equatorian Community Leaders in the Diaspora
For correspondence: Mr. Federico Awi Vuni;

Date: 25 July 2016
Your Excellencies,
Re: Use of starvation as a weapon of destruction in South Sudan
We welcome the efforts of the international community in trying to achieve a lasting peace in South Sudan. In particular, we thank the UN Security Council for its recent press statement on South Sudan issued on 10 July 2016 and the communique of the Heads of States and Governments of the IGAD-Plus on the situation in South Sudan issued on 16 July 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Government of South Sudan, under the leadership of President Kiir is using starvation as a weapon for destruction and prevention of civilians from going out in search of food. Those South Sudanese would like to leave the country are being held hostage and used as human shields. The limited food available in the World Food Programme warehouse in Juba has been looted by Government soldiers and they have distributed it to their ethnic groups. We condemn this act. This is evidence that the Government has recruited a burdensome army that it cannot sustain. It is further evidence of the economic collapse that has contributed to lawlessness by soldiers.

We condemn the ongoing use of rape and gender based violence, perpetrated against women and girls as a weapon of war in the current conflict.

The Government has failed to respect human rights of its citizens. Instead, the government has demonstrated that it is working against its own people. Journalists have been threatened, detained and killed for doing their job. More recently, Mr. Alfred Taban, the Editor of Juba Monitor, was arrested for exercising his right of freedom of expression by demanding the resignation of both President Kiir and First Vice President Dr Machar. We advocate for an alternative government that will represent entire South Sudanese.

Following the recent incident that occurred in Juba on the 7th, 8th and 11th July 2016, the Presidency has been unable to meet due to a lack of trust in security provision. It has been suggested by the Government that should Dr Machar not return to Juba then he should be replaced by an alternative individual from within his movement.

President Kiir issued a decree on 25th July 2016, in which he replaced First Vice President Dr. Macha with Taban Deng Gai. We object to any attempt by President Kiir to replace First Vice President Dr Machar. Under the current environment whereby all SPLM-IO in Juba are at the mercy of the Government it should be considered that they are effectively held hostage, and therefore unable to express their own views. They are being forced to comply with a course of action dictated by the SPLM under the direction of President Kiir.

Until such time as there is a neutral force in the country. It is unlikely that an honest partnership will exist between the principal peace partners.

In view of the distrust among the principal parties in the Presidency, we support the call for South Sudan to be placed under UN Trusteeship until such a time that a fair and transparent election can be held and a new leader with a genuine mandate is elected for our country.

We, the Equatorian Community Leaders in the Diaspora:
1. Condemn the use of starvation as a weapon of mass destruction;
2. Condemn government action to prevent civilians from leaving Juba and South Sudan;
3. Condemn the human rights abuses committed by the Government against its own citizens;
4. Condemn the lack of freedom in the country and the growing authoritarianism this represents;
5. Object to attempts by President Kiir to replace the First Vice President, Dr Machar with General Taban Deng Gai;
6. Support placing South Sudan under UN Trusteeship until a fair and transparent election can be held enabling new leadership to be chosen by the people.

We, the undersigned representatives of Equatorian Leaders in the Diaspora, call upon our peace partners to remain seized on the matter of restoring and enforcing peace in South Sudan.
Kind regards,

Federico Awi Vuni
Chairman, Executive Committee, Equatorian Community in the UK

William Orule
Chairperson, Equatoria Community & Welfare Association, NSW

Kwaje M. Lasu, MPH, RCP
President, Equatoria South Sudanese Community Association-USA (ESSCA-USA)

Joseph Modi
President, Equatoria South Sudanese Community Association-Canada (ESSCA- Canada)

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