UN extends arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudan

Security Council resolution follows reports of continued ceasefire infringements and increasing violence

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, centre, and Vice President Riek Machar, right, at the signing of an agreement in Juba to bolster their faltering peace deal, in April 2022. AFP
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The UN Security Council on Thursday renewed an arms embargo against South Sudan, as well as a travel ban and financial sanctions for certain people, amid continuing unrest in the country.

The resolution to extend the measures until May next year was drafted by the US and passed with the support of 10 of the 15 council members. Gabon, Kenya, India, Russia and China abstained.

A UN panel of experts recommended extending the sanctions in a report submitted this month, citing persistent ceasefire breaches and intensifying violence in the country’s regions.

The embargo was imposed in 2018 after a peace agreement ended five years of bloody civil war between factions loyal to President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar.

When the embargo was last extended a year ago, authorities in South Sudan were given a list of political and security conditions in order for the restrictions to be lifted or relaxed.

The experts panel said the government breached the arms embargo after it purchased about 25 new armoured personnel carriers for the police.

Meanwhile, conditions for millions of civilians “are getting worse”, the panel said, with violence, floods and displacement creating “unprecedented levels of food insecurity across much of the country”.

It cited the UN World Food Programme’s warning in March that South Sudan was facing its “worst hunger crisis ever”, with about 8.3 million people needing food aid and 1.4 million children “acutely malnourished” as of December.

The resolution passed on Thursday strongly condemned “past and ongoing human rights violations and abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law, including the alarming surge in conflict-related sexual violence”.

A diplomatic source said the resolution contains a provision for a possible easing of the restrictions for non-lethal military equipment if it is needed to fulfil the 2018 peace agreement.

The provision was included at the request of the Security Council's three African members — Kenya, Gabon and Ghana.

The youngest country in the world, South Sudan has experienced chronic instability since becoming independent from Sudan in 2011.

The 2013-2018 war left about 400,000 dead and millions displaced.

Updated: May 27, 2022, 5:56 AM