August 21, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should impose a comprehensive arms embargo on South Sudan to prevent further atrocities against civilians, a key US senator said.
- Senate foreign relations chairman Robert Menendez (L) and House foreign affairs chairman Ed Royce (R) meet with South Sudanese president Salva Kiir at Capitol Hill in Washington on 5 August 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas)
“Each day that passes without strong actions from the international community is another day innocents southern Sudanese are a greater risk of a cruel death and possible starvation,” said Edward Royce, the chair of the senate committee on foreign relations in a petition to the US permanent representative to UN Samantha Power.
An estimated 10,000 South Sudanese have been killed and more than one million displaced since violence broke out in the country eight months ago.
Royce, in his August 14th petition, slammed political and military leaders from both the government and the opposition sides for showing “complete” disregard for the South Sudanese people.
“Tragically, each party has placed its personal interests and gains over the life-saving needs of those in South Sudan,” he said, and stressed that a severe man-made humanitarian crisis, including a grave risk of famine, looms over the people of South Sudan,” Royce said in his letter.
He further urged the 15-member council to expeditiously impose stringent sanctions against senior members from South Sudan government and the opposition for violating the agreed ceasefire.
“A UN sanctions regime would complement the administration’s efforts and place additional pressure on both sides of the conflict to change course,” “[South] Sudanese leaders must know that they will be held accountable for gross human rights violations,” said Royce.
The US suspended military assistance to South Sudan soon after the outbreak of violence in December 2013. The European Union has maintained an arms embargo that was first imposed on Sudan in 1994, and was extended to cover South Sudan in 2011.
Both the EU and US government have already slapped sanctions on military generals from both sides of the conflict over their alleged involvement in the country’s conflict.
MORE CALLS FOR SANCTIONS
Early this month, the US-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Security Council to immediately impose individual sanctions and an arms embargo in the wake of some of the worst crimes against civilians the country has ever witnessed.
A new report released by HRW entitled South Sudan’s New War: Abuses by Government and Opposition Forces found both sides and their allies are responsible for committing “extraordinary acts of cruelty” that amount to war crimes since conflict erupted in the young nation in mid-December last year.
The 92-page report documents how widespread killings of civilians, often based on their ethnicity, and the mass destruction and looting of civilian property, have come to define the conflict.
According to HRW, South Sudan purchased large quantities of weapons since the conflict began, including from China, presumably for use in the fighting.
Amnesty International also called for a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties to the conflict, saying it would prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms to all parties to the conflict in South Sudan, including to all foreign armed forces and groups present in the country.
The UNSC warned in a presidential statement earlier this month that it is prepared, in consultation with IGAD and the African Union (AU) to impose targeted sanctions “against those who take action that undermines the peace, stability, and security of South Sudan, including those who prevent the implementation of these agreements”.