UN urges arms embargo on South Sudan

UN urges arms embargo on South Sudan
With the rainy season about to end, a UN chief fears an upsurge in fighting in South Sudan, and has asked world powers to prevent more weapons entering the country.
2 min read
19 October, 2016
South Sudan is witnessing a traditional lull in fighting due to heavy rain [AFP]

The UN has pleaded with the security council to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, which has witnessed a cycle of violence over the past few months which has left hundreds of civilians dead.

Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said he expects an upsurge in fighting in South Sudan with the coming end of impending end of the rainy season, where the government and rebels have locked horns to deadly effect.

He told reporters that he had made his appeal directly to the council during a closed-door meeting on Monday.

"I think an arms embargo should happen now and that's even very late," Ladsous told reporters on Tuesday.

"The rainy season is coming to a close and that has frequently been the time of the year when people go back to military operations."

The council is weighing its next steps in South Sudan after the government in Juba showed little cooperation with UN plans to deploy a 4,000-strong regional force.

The council voted in August to deploy the force in Juba and warned that if the government opposed the plan it would face an arms embargo.

Prospects for peace in South Sudan faded when rebel leader Reik Machar - who had been appointed vice president of a new unity government - fled Juba following heavy fighting in July.

Machar has been replaced by Taban Deng Gai and is now in South Africa for medical treatment.

He has called for renewed war with the SPLA forces of President Salva Kiir.

"On the SPLA  side, they do entertain the idea that they could achieve a military victory, so the political process comes second," a senior UN official said.

South Sudan descended into war in December 2013 after Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting a coup.

Tens of thousands of people have died and more than 2.5 million have been driven from their homes in the nearly three-year war, which has been marked by appalling levels of rape and killings.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a letter to the council last week that Kiir's government was imposing "significant limitations" to the proposed new force.

Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda have offered to contribute troops, but the Juba government has yet to give its approval for the makeup of the force, which will be under the command of the UN mission in South Sudan.