UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng accused Kenya and Uganda of helping to sustain the civil war in South Sudan by serving as a conduit for weapons into the country in a statement released on January 30.
South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 and has been engaged in a violent civil war since 2013. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in the conflict, and approximately four million have been displaced. Refugee camps in Uganda currently host more than a million South Sudanese refugees, and Kenyan refugee camps house over 100,000.
Despite these countries’ assistance, according to Dieng, “It is true that large quantities of weapons and ammunition are owing into South Sudan through Kenya and Uganda.” Many of the weapons are believed to have originated in Ukraine or Bulgaria and may be going to both rebel groups and government forces. A November 2017 UN investigation found a flight containing 31 tons of weapons that landed in Uganda. The weapons were then transferred to individuals in South Sudan, according to the East African.
Dieng contends that for the peace process in South Sudan to be successful, regional actors must end the flow of arms into the region.
Archbishop of Gulu Diocese in Northern Uganda John Baptist Odama also accused the Ugandan government of escalating the conflict in South Sudan after the UN report was released, according to Sudan Tribune. “For over fifty years, the people of South Sudan have not witnessed or enjoyed peace in their country. The leaders must end the greed that is forcing them into war but accept to work peacefully towards achieving lasting peace,” Odoma said. He also asked the people of South Sudan to forgive Ugandans for aiding in the conflict that has devastated the region.
In response to the UN’s new accusation, both the European Union and the African Union are considering imposing sanctions on officials in the Ugandan and Kenyan governments as well as on banks in both nations that aid the flow of weapons and money into the South Sudan conflict.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley previously called on regional actors to help formulate a peaceful settlement to the conflict. “It is past time for the leaders of Uganda and Kenya to get involved and put pressure on President [Salva] Kiir [of South Sudan],” Haley said at a UN Security Council meeting on January 24. The ambassador also called on the international community to enforce a full arms embargo on South Sudan in order to stop the bloodshed.
According to the East African, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also called on regional actors to remain neutral in the South Sudan conflict and emphasized that regional rivalries must not result in foreign states competing in a proxy war in South Sudan.