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S. Sudan government using food as weapon of war: UN report

November 11, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudan government uses food as a weapon of war to target civilians by blocking life-saving aid in some areas, a United Nations report to the Security Council has revealed.

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People in conflict-affected areas of South Sudan collect food from WFP (WFP/eter Testuzza Photo)

According to the confidential report seen by Reuters, between 2016 and 2017, a campaign allegedly carried by government troops in South Sudan’s Wau state and areas in Western Bahr el-Ghazal targeted civilians on ethnic grounds, displacing more than 100,000.

“The government has during much of 2017 deliberately prevented life-saving food assistance from reaching some citizens,” the confidential report from UN monitors partly reads.

“These actions amount to using food as a weapon of war with the intent to inflict suffering on civilians the government views as opponents to its agenda,” it added.

The UN report faults President Salva Kiir’s government for food insecurity situation in a nation where 1.2 million people risk starvation.

“The denial of aid had caused extreme food insecurity among large sections of the population, with malnutrition and death by starvation the documented outcome, in particular in the Greater Baggari area in Wau County,” says the report submitted to the Security Council.

South Sudan government did not immediate react to the new UN report.

Last month, a UN report said South Sudan’s government bears "primary responsibility" for incessant violence in the young nation.

The five-member panel established by the UN Security Council cited an absence of political will to implement a 2015 peace agreement and to address "the destructive governance practices and historical grievances that continue to drive the conflict in South Sudan.

The experts attributed these failures to the political and military elite of the country, with the primary responsibility for the ongoing violence resting with those in the government led by President Kiir and the first vice-president, Taban Deng Gai.

Neighbouring nations continue to experience adverse impacts of the nearly four-year-long civil war, yet are making no effective efforts to negotiate an end to the fighting, the report says.

The South Sudanese conflict has killed tens of thousands and displaced over two million people.

(ST)