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UN Monitors accuse South Sudan of using food as weapon

JUBA – The government of South Sudan has been accused by the United Nations Monitors of deliberately preventing humanitarian food to the starving refugees.

The UN monitoring team on the South Sudan sanctions says in a report that government troops are blocking life-saving aide in the northwest town of Wau and the surrounding areas of Western Bahr el-Ghazel targeting civilians on ethnic grounds.

Under humanitarian law, using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving people of their survival and blocking relief supplies specifically food is listed as a war crime.

The reported quoted by the Reuters says the denial of aid in the area had caused extreme food insecurity in the area, with malnutrition and starvation.

 “The government has during much of 2017 deliberately prevented life-saving food assistance from reaching some citizens,” the monitors wrote in a report submitted to the UN Security Council. “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.”

South Sudan’s civil war erupted in late 2013 and has killed tens of thousands of people and sent more than 2.4 million fleeing the country.

Most of these refugees have run to Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan, creating the largest displacement of civilians in Africa since the Rwanda genocide in 1994.

The conflict was sparked by a feud between Kiir, a Dinka, and his former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer, who is being held in South Africa.

The United Nations has warned that the violence in South Sudan was providing “fertile ground” for genocide.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley visited the Juba late last month, where she told Kiir that the United States had lost trust in his government and risked losing Washington’s support if he did not pursue peace.

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