UN: South Sudan government using food as a weapon of war


South Sudan’s government is using food as a weapon of war against civilians, according to a United Nations sanction monitors report, seen by Reuters last week.

The UN monitors say President Salva Kiir’s government is intentionally blocking life-saving aid to some areas of the war-torn nation. They say the government’s actions have caused severe food insecurity that will result in malnutrition and starvation unless essential aid is quickly delivered.

Preventing aid

The UN monitors accuse South Sudan’s government of conducting a military campaign in the northwestern town of Wau and parts of Western Bahr el-Ghazal during 2016 and 2017. They say government troops are targeting civilians based on their ethnicity with more than 100,000 displaced during the campaign.

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

Food as a weapon

“The denial of aid had caused extreme food insecurity among large sections of the population, with malnutrition and death by starvation the documented outcome, in particular in the Greater Baggari area in Wau County,” the report allegedly says.

This wouldn’t be the first time the UN has accused South Sudan of preventing aid from reaching civilians and using food as a weapon.

In a report last month, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, insisted the government’s actions could be deemed a war crime.

“If the famine comes from deliberate action of the State or other players using food as a weapon of war, it is an international crime,” she said.


Featured image: By Ssunaronald – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53541437


About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.