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Iran Press TV

South Sudan forces, armed groups deliberately starved civilians: UN probe

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 20 February 2020 7:17 PM

A United Nations rights abuse investigation into the performance of South Sudan's authorities finds them liable for starving millions of civilians intentionally.

The report, which was devised by the UN-mandated Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, was released on Thursday, bemoaning the practices of "predatory and unaccountable elites."

Under the authorities, government forces and other armed groups have "deliberately starved" civilians by denying aid access and displacing communities, the three-member commission noted.

Surprisingly, the abuses singled out by the panel came right after the country's President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar signed a so-called peace deal to sew up their rifts and form a unity government.

During the period reviewed by the commission, which ran up to December 2019, some 6.35 million people -- 54 percent of the population -- were facing severe hunger.

"The denial of humanitarian access and displacement brought about by unlawful tactics have significantly exacerbated famine in different parts of the country, depriving hundreds of thousands of civilians of vital needs, including access to food," the panel pointed out.

"Political elites remained oblivious to the intense suffering of millions of civilians for whom they were ostensibly fighting," it added.

South Sudan's conflict broke out in December 2013 after a dispute between Kiir and his former deputy and longtime rival Machar.

The fighting has left some 380,000 dead and forced four million to flee their homes.

The commission, meanwhile, blamed the rivals for lacking the political will that could defuse the crisis, while they are only two days away from a deadline to form the unity government. The deadline has already been pushed back twice.

Graft, child soldiers, surveillance

According to the report, graft has robbed the state of precious resources, grossly enriching several officials at the expense of the starving people.

Both the state's forces and the rebels are, meanwhile, still engaged in recruiting child soldiers, it added.

Currently, the two sides are believed to have enlisted 19,000 children between them.

Besides, non-combatants across the country are "systematically surveilled and silenced, arbitrarily arrested and detained, and denied meaningful access to justice," the panel said.

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