Starvation used as a warfare method in South Sudan: Report
The UN warned in November that almost 8 million people in South Sudan face severe hunger from April to July 2023 due to conflict & extreme weather.
Global Rights Compliance published on November 24 a report titled "No Choice But To Flee" detailing the results of an investigation carried out on the status quo in South Sudan and how starvation has been used as a 'method of warfare' by the government against civilians.
The report states that the conflict between armed rebels, rival ethnic factions, and government forces has been ongoing for the past nine years, with lootings, mass killings, torture, acts of sexual and gender-based violence, and large-scale destruction happening on a frequent basis.
South Sudan gained its independence in 2011. Although the event seemed to seal years of quarrel between the two Sudans, conflict over the share of power remained ongoing - which later resulted in a civil war that commenced in December 2013 and still continues today.
The conflict involves the government forces, along with Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), and opposition forces that include the Sudan People's Liberation Army-in-Opposition (SPLA-IO).
The civil war began in 2013 after President Salva Kiir Mayardit accused Vice-President Riek Machar of planning a failed coup. Kiir is a member of the country's majority ethnic group, the Dinka.
It first took place in Juba and later spread to the Greater Upper Nile region, reaching Central Equatoria, which was heavily affected by the clashes around 2015 and 2016.
By 2018, serious efforts were mobilized toward reaching a peace agreement among all parties with the presentation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS).
But the proposal was destined to fail as five parties declined to sign the agreement, including the National Salvation Front (NAS), a South Sudanese militant group led by Lt Gen. Thomas Cirillo Swaka that has been fighting against the government of South Sudan since March 2017.
On 22 February 2020, the government formed the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) in a bid to restore peace, security, and stability and finalize the civil war between the government and warring political parties.
Riek Machar was reappointed (for the third time since independence) as first vice president, with other four vice presidents also appointed.
But human rights violations and abuses continued to be committed, and in recent months, the situation has worsened as deadly ethnic clashes were renewed in the country, particularly in the Abyei Administrative Area.
The conflict has cost more than 400,000 civilian deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries and displacements.
The report published by the Netherlands-based foundation Global Rights Compliance says there is a "clear link between the use of civilian starvation as a method of warfare, targeted attacks on humanitarian aid workers and the mass forcible displacement of civilians."
It further accuses government forces of effecting such a crime of starving their own people.
But all parties involved in the conflict are likewise responsible for committing all sorts of violations, including "large-scale and systematic burning and destruction of homes and property, depriving civilians of objects indispensable to their survival, including through the destruction of food crops and markets, and impeding humanitarian access to the most vulnerable. These tactics have forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians, mainly to refugee camps in northern Uganda."
The UN warned in November that almost 8 million people in South Sudan face severe hunger from April to July 2023 due to conflict and extreme weather.
As rich nations are diverting aid from African countries to Ukraine, it is likely that the outcome of the crisis will further worsen in the close future.
Read more: 31 dead in South Sudan territorial clashes