Only Six African Nations Yet To Record Any Case Of COVID-19

(FILES) This file handout illustration image obtained February 3, 2020, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Lizabeth MENZIES / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / AFP.

 

 

Six of Africa’s 54 nations are among the last in the world yet to report cases of the new coronavirus.

The global pandemic has been confirmed in almost every country, but for a handful of far-flung tiny island states, war-torn Yemen and isolated North Korea.

In Africa, authorities claim they are spared by god, or simply saved by low air traffic to their countries, however, some fear it is lack of testing that is hiding the true impact.

– South Sudan –

The East African nation is barely emerging from six years of civil war and with high levels of hunger, illness and little infrastructure, observers fear the virus could wreak havoc.

Doctor Angok Gordon Kuol, one of those charged with overseeing the fight against the virus, said the country had only carried out 12 tests, none of which were positive.

He said the reason the virus has yet to reach South Sudan could be explained by the low volume of air traffic and travel to the country.

“Very few airlines come to South Sudan and most of the countries affected today they are affected by… people coming from abroad.”

He said the main concern was foreigners working for the large NGO and humanitarian community, or people crossing land borders from neighbouring countries.

READ ALSO: Global Lockdown Tightens As Coronavirus Deaths Mount

South Sudan has shut schools, banned gatherings such as weddings, funerals and sporting events and blocked flights from worst-affected countries. Non-essential businesses have been shuttered and movement restricted.

The country can currently test around 500 people and has one isolation centre with 24 beds.

– Burundi –

In Burundi, which is gearing up for general elections in May, authorities thank divine intervention for the lack of cases.

“The government thanks all-powerful God who has protected Burundi,” government spokesman Prosper Ntahorwamiye said on national television last week.

At the same time, he criticised those “spreading rumours” that Burundi is not capable of testing for the virus, or that it is spreading unnoticed.

Some measures have been taken, such as the suspension of international flights and placing handwashing stations at the entrances to banks and restaurants in Bujumbura.

However, several doctors have expressed their concerns.

“There are zero cases in Burundi because there have been zero tests,” a Burundian doctor said on condition of anonymity.

– Sao Tome and Principe –

Sao Tome and Principe — a tiny nation of small islands covered in the lush rainforest — has reported zero cases because it is unable to test, according to World Health Organisation representative Anne Ancia.

However “we are continuing preparations,” with around 100 people in quarantine after returning from highly-affected countries, and the WHO keeping an eye on cases of pneumonia.

With only four ICU beds for a population of 200,000 people, the country is desperate to not let the virus take hold and has already shut its borders despite the importance of tourism to the local economy.

– Malawi –

Malawi’s health ministry spokesman Joshua Malango brushed aside fears that Malawi might not have registered any COVID-19 cases due to a lack of testing kits:

“We have the testing kits in Malawi and we are testing.”

Dr Bridget Malewezi from the Society of Medical Doctors told AFP that while “we may not be 100 percent ready”, government was gearing up for the arrival of the virus.

She suggested it may only be a matter of time before the pandemic hits Malawi.

“It’s only been in the past few weeks that it has been rampantly spreading across Africa so most people feel it will get here at some point…,” she said.

Malawi has asked people coming from hard-hit countries to self-quarantine, which Malawezi said had helped “safeguard the country from any possible spread of the virus”.

– Lesotho –

Tiny Lesotho, a kingdom encircled by South Africa with only two million inhabitants, went into national lockdown on Monday despite registering zero cases.

Until last week the country had no tests or testing centres and received its first kits thanks to a donation by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma.

Authorities had reported eight suspected cases that they had not been able to test and the first results are expected soon.

– Comoros –

The Indian Ocean island nation of Comoros, situated between Madagascar and Mozambique, has yet to detect a single case of the virus, according to the health ministry.

One doctor in the capital Moroni, Dr Abdou Ada, wonders if it may not be because of the wide use of the drug Artemisinin to treat malaria.

“I believe that the mass anti-malarial treatment explains the fact that Comoros is, at least for now, spared from COVID-19. it is a personal belief that needs to be confirmed scientifically.”

AFP

S.Sudan Rebel Leader Machar Sworn In As Vice President

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 17, 2019 South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (L), South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar (R) and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (C)”Hemeti”,
Majak Kuany / AFP

 

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar was sworn in as first vice president on Saturday, formally rejoining the government in the latest bid to bring peace to a nation ravaged by war.

President Salva Kiir hailed the “official ending of war” and said peace was now “irreversible” as the new unity government was formed after more than a year of delays and bickering over crucial issues.

It is the third time that bitter foes Machar and President Salva Kiir will attempt to rule together and the pair have many differences yet to iron out as they form the unity government that is a cornerstone of a September 2018 peace deal.

“For the people of South Sudan, I want to assure you that we will work together to end your suffering,” Machar said after taking the oath.

READ ALSO: Lesotho Police Postpone PM Court Appearance Over Wife’s Murder

Machar embraced and shook hands with Kiir after being sworn in.

The rebel leader returns as first vice president. Four other vice presidents from the government and other opposition groups will also form part of a bloated government of 35 ministers and 550 lawmakers.

The rivals started out as president and deputy at independence in 2011 but Kiir sacked Machar in 2013 and later accused him of attempting a coup against him, sparking a bloody war characterised by ethnic bloodshed between Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer communities.

“We must forgive one another and reconcile. I also appeal to the people of Dinka and Nuer to forgive one another,” said Kiir.

A 2015 peace deal brought Machar back as vice president and he returned to Juba amid heavy security.

When that deal fell apart in July 2016, the capital was plunged into a brutal battle between rival armies and Machar was forced to flee on foot.

The ensuing war drew in new parts of the country and other local grievances and disputes came to the fore.

After six years of the war some 380,000 have died, four million fled their homes and more than half the population is facing severe hunger.

The economy of the oil-rich nation is shattered, infrastructure barely existent, and millions of children are out of school.

The September peace deal has led to the longest period of relative calm since 2013 but fighting continues between government and holdout rebel groups in the Central Equatorial region.

Bloody localised conflicts between communities in the absence of a functioning state have soared.

Machar on Saturday hailed the strengthening of the South Sudanese pound on the back of the formation of the unity government from 320 to 220 pounds to the dollar, saying “this is the dividend of peace.”

And, with around 190,000 people still cowering in United Nations protection camps around the country, the UN special envoy to South Sudan David Shearer said he believed that “we will see lots of people once displaced moving back to their homes.”

‘Much More To Work Through’

The formation of the unity government was postponed twice by failure to move forward on forming a unified army, carving out-state borders and creating a protection force to assure Machar’s security.

A last-minute deal on the number of states was achieved, although little progress has been made on the other issues.

Kiir has said his forces would be in charge of Machar’s protection as a special VIP protection force is still undergoing training.

A compromise by Kiir to cut to 10 the number of states, which he increased unilaterally to 32 after independence, was seen as key in moving towards the creation of the unity government.

However, the opposition remains reticent about an additional three “administrative areas” pushed through by Kiir.

“Kiir’s compromise on the state’s issue paved the way for the two sides to finally move forward, even if the parties have much more to work through in the coming weeks, months, and years,” Alan Boswell, a South Sudan expert with the International Crisis Group (ICG) told AFP.

Both Kiir and Machar are former rebel leaders who rose to power during Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war between north and south — a conflict in which they also fought each other — before South Sudan won freedom in 2011.

United Nations experts say Kiir and Machar are both responsible for most of the violence committed during the war.

A report from a UN rights probe released this week delivered a damning indictment of “predatory and unaccountable elites” who had gone so far as to “deliberately starve” civilians in pursuit of their war.

It highlighted that corruption had robbed the state of precious resources and “made several officials extremely wealthy at the expense of millions of starving civilians.”

AFP

UN Accuses Warring South Sudan Parties Of Deliberately Starving Citizens

People displaced by conflict and living at the Protection of Civilians (POC) site mingle amongst shelters in Wau on February 1, 2020.
TONY KARUMBA / AFP

 

South Sudan’s government forces and other armed groups have “deliberately starved” civilians by denying aid access and displacing communities, a report from a United Nations rights probe said Thursday.

“Today in South Sudan, civilians are deliberately starved, systematically surveilled and silenced, arbitrarily arrested and detained and denied meaningful access to justice,” it said.

The three-member commission looked into abuses between the signing of a peace deal in September 2018 and December 2019.

The panel delivered a damning indictment of “predatory and unaccountable elites” and the suffering of civilians after six years of conflict.

The report comes two days before the latest deadline to form a unity government — a process beset with delays and bickering, and “lack of political will”, according to the commission.

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

AFP

South Sudan President Makes Move Towards Peace

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit attends the 33rd Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, on February 10, 2020. MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit attends the 33rd Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, on February 10, 2020. MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP

 

South Sudan’s president said on Saturday he would return to a system of 10 states, a key opposition demand, paving the way for a unity government and an end to the country’s civil war.

“The compromise we have just made is in the interest of peace…I expect the opposition to reciprocate,” Salva Kiir said, after a meeting of top government and military officials in the capital Juba.

Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar are under increasing pressure to resolve their differences by February 22 and form a unity government as part of a peace agreement.

The pair have already missed two previous deadlines to enshrine peace to end a six-year conflict that has left at least 380,000 people dead and millions in dire poverty.

Trainee soldiers for a new unified army sit on the ground with their wooden rifles while attending a reconciliation programme run by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) at a makeshift barracks in Mapel on January 31, 2020. TONY KARUMBA / AFP
Trainee soldiers for a new unified army sit on the ground with their wooden rifles while attending a reconciliation programme run by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) at a makeshift barracks in Mapel on January 31, 2020. TONY KARUMBA / AFP

 

The number of states is contentious because the borders will determine the divisions of power in the country.

When it gained independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan had 10 states, as set out in its constitution. Kiir increased that in 2015 to 28, and then later 32.

But on Saturday, a presidential statement confirmed that Kiir had “resolved to return the country to 10 states and their previous counties”.

Kiir’s had repeatedly refused to back down on the number of states but had come under intense international pressure to compromise.

Kiir and Machar are old rivals who have fought and made up multiple times.

 

AFP

‘Catastrophic’ Floods Could Provoke Famine In South Sudan, WFP Warns

 

Devastating flooding in South Sudan following a fierce drought could tip parts of the country into famine in the next few months, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Thursday.

According to the UN refugee agency nearly one million people were affected by floodwaters that submerged entire towns, compounding an already dire humanitarian situation after six years of war.

The WFP said that 5.5 million people are expected to be going hungry in early 2020 — the time at which the population is generally benefiting from their harvest in October and November of the previous year.

An earlier harvest failed due to drought. This time crops have been washed away.

“The number of people in need is likely to increase because of the catastrophic level of destruction caused by floods since October following a drought that hammered parts of the country earlier in the year,” the agency said in a statement.

The floods wiped out 73,000 metric tons of potential harvests as well as tens of thousands of cattle and goats, said the WFP.

“We know the problems that we’ve been having in South Sudan, but the rains and the floods have led to a national disaster and are much worse than anyone could have anticipated,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.

“In fact, if we don’t get funding in the next few weeks and months, we are literally talking about famine. We need support, we need help and we need it now.”

The agency estimated its needs at $270 million (242 million euros) for the first half of 2020.

South Sudan declared a “man-made” famine affecting around 100,000 people in 2017.

The term “famine” is used according to a scientific system agreed upon by global agencies, when at least 20 percent of the population in a specific area has extremely limited access to basic food; acute malnutrition exceeds 30 percent; and the death rate exceeds two per 10,000 people per day for the entire population.

“Famine in South Sudan was defeated after four months in 2017 by a concerted large-scale humanitarian response,” said the WFP.

“Experts now say the country’s food security outlook has never been so dire.”

Political instability is also high as President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar have again delayed their formation of a power-sharing government, this time by 100 days until February 2020.

AFP

South Sudan Speaker Resigns Over Corruption Allegations

 

South Sudan’s parliamentary speaker has resigned after lawmakers threatened to impeach him for blocking efforts to fight corruption and mismanagement, local media reported Monday.

Anthony Lino Makana was accused by fellow MPs of failing to present auditor-general and anti-corruption reports to parliament and blocking lawmakers from summing ministers for questioning.

He was also accused of approving a loan of $400 million (361 million euros) from Afrexim Bank without bringing it first to the house as recommended by law, in a motion tabled by lawmakers who demanded he resign.

“The reason for tendering my resignation is an act of deep and sincere respect to your leadership (of the ruling SPLM party) for you requested me to do so,” Makana said in comments carried by South Sudan Broadcasting Radio on Monday.

Corruption is rampant in South Sudan, which achieved independence in 2011 and plunged into civil war two years later.

AFP

US To Review Support For South Sudan After Unity Government Delay

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir addresses the nation about the extension of the pre-transitional period for 100 days after meeting with the opposition leader Riak Machar in Kampala yesterday for talks on South Sudan’s proposed unity government at Juba international airport, in Juba, South Sudan, on November 8, 2019. PHOTO: Peter LOUIS / AFP

 

The United States said on Thursday it was reviewing its relationship with South Sudan and questioned whether its feuding leaders were suited for office after a new delay in forming a unity government.

“We must review our relationship with the government in light of the delay. The US is considering all possible options to put pressure on those individuals who would impede peace and promote conflict,” Tibor Nagy, the top US diplomat for Africa, wrote on Twitter.

South Sudan Rival Leaders Given 100 Days To Form Unity Government

South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar (R) arrives for talks on South Sudan’s proposed unity government at State House in Entebbe, Uganda, on November 7, 2019./ AFP

 

 

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar have been given another 100 days to form a power-sharing government after failing to resolve differences over a peace deal.

The two leaders, whose fall out in 2013 sparked a conflict that has left hundreds of thousands dead, were granted the extension after a rare face-to-face meeting held with regional heavyweights in Uganda.

It is the second time the deadline has been pushed back since the rivals signed a truce last September that brought a pause to fighting.

Both sides had agreed to join forces in a coalition government by November 12. But with the date looming and key issues far from resolved, regional leaders brokered high-level mediations in Entebbe to chart a way forward.

“It was really impossible to have them reach agreement in five days. We’ve given them three months and we will continue our engagement,” Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa told AFP following the closed-door discussions at State House in Entebbe.

The meeting “agreed to extend the pre-transitional period… and to review progress after fifty days from that date”, Kutesa said after the meeting, reading from an official communique.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who heads neighbouring Sudan’s sovereign council, and Kalonzo Musyoka, a special envoy from Kenya, were among top delegates at the regional gathering.

The peace deal has largely stopped the fighting that erupted just two years after South Sudan achieved independence, violence that left nearly 400,000 dead and displaced close to four million people.

Observers had warned pushing the foes to form a unity government before disagreements over security and state boundaries were resolved threatened to plunge the country back into war.

“Another extension is far preferable than a return to conflict,” said Alan Boswell, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.

UN Aid Workers Killed In South Sudan

Three aid volunteers working at Ebola screening points along the DR Congo border were killed in clashes in South Sudan, the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) said Wednesday.

“The IOM volunteers, one female and two males, were caught in a crossfire during clashes that broke out” on Sunday, in Morobo County in the Central Equatoria region, the UN agency said in a statement.

Two other male volunteers were injured, while a female volunteer and the son of the woman who was killed were abducted.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleagues and we extend our heartfelt condolences to their families and friends,” said IOM chief of mission in South Sudan, Jean-Philippe Chauzy.

According to the statement, the IOM has suspended screening for Ebola at five sites along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

An Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people in DR Congo since August 2018, placing the region on high alert, with cases already having spread to Uganda.

“The safety of our personnel is paramount and will not be further jeopardised until we secure guarantees for the security of all our personnel operating in Morobo County,” said Chauzy.

The UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA also condemned the killings in a statement, noting it was the first reported killing of aid workers in South Sudan since 2018.

At least 115 aid workers, mainly South Sudanese, have been killed since the country plunged into conflict in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him.

The conflict has left nearly 400,000 dead and displaced millions.

A peace deal was signed in September last year and a ceasefire has largely held, but fighting in the Central Equatoria region has continued between government forces and a holdout rebel group.

A long-delayed unity government is due to be formed by November 12, however Machar is seeking further postponement over crucial outstanding issues.

AFP

Over 100 Civilians Killed In Fresh South Sudan Violence

 

The UN said Wednesday that conflict had intensified in a region of South Sudan since a peace deal was signed, with hundreds of civilians raped or murdered by warring factions.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said civilians had been “deliberately and brutally targeted” in Central Equatoria since the agreement was inked in September.

At least 104 people had been killed in attacks on villages in the southern region, it said.

A roughly similar number of women and girls were raped or suffered other sexual violence between September and April, it said in its latest human rights report.

READ ALSO: Eight Dead, 15 Missing After Indian Dam Breach

Many were taken captive by armed groups to serve as “wives,” it said.

The surge in violence has forced more than 56,000 civilians to flee their homes, becoming displaced in South Sudan itself, while another 20,000 have crossed the border into Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

South Sudan descended into war in 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy and fellow former rebel leader Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

The conflict has been marked by ethnic violence and brutal atrocities and left about 380,000 dead while some four million have fled their homes.

UNMISS said overall there had been a “significant decrease” in violence across the country since Kiir and Machar signed the deal.

“However, Central Equatoria has been an exception to this trend, particularly in areas surrounding Yei, where attacks against civilians have continued,” the report said.

The report identified government forces, fighters allied to Machar and rebel groups who did not sign the peace agreement, as responsible for atrocities in their quest to take territory in Central Equatoria.

In the first phase of fighting, that coincided with the signing of the peace agreement, at least 61 civilians were killed in deliberate attacks or caught in the indiscriminate crossfire.

“At least 150 civilians were also held in captivity by these groups, including women and girls taken as ‘wives’ by commanders or raped and beaten by multiple fighters,” the report said.

The second outbreak of violence began in January when government forces punished those believed to rebel collaborators with “sexual violence as well as looting and destroying homes, churches, schools and health centres”.

Under the peace deal, Kiir agreed to set up a unity government with longtime rival Machar, who is to return from exile.

But this new government, initially scheduled to take office on May 12, was postponed for six months.

AFP

South Sudan Hires US Lobby Group To Block War Crimes Court

 

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has hired an American lobby group run by a former ambassador to block the creation of a court to judge war crimes in the conflict-torn nation.

According to a contract between the government and the lobby group, Gainful Solutions, published online by the US Department of Justice, the $3.7 million (3.3-million euro) deal was signed on April 2.

The contract states that Gainful Solutions, run by former US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, was hired to “improve relations with the United States, both politically and economically”.

This includes persuading Trump’s government to “reverse sanctions and prevent further sanctions” and to mobilise American investment in South Sudan’s oil.

However, in a clear indication of the government’s hostility to the proposed body, the contract also states that the lobby group must “delay and ultimately block the establishment of the hybrid court” envisaged in a peace deal signed in September 2018.

The creation of the African Union-South Sudanese hybrid court dates back to an earlier peace agreement in 2015, a bid to win justice for atrocities committed during a war that is now in its sixth year.

 Six years of war 

Conflict erupted in December 2013 after Kiir accused his longtime rival and former vice president Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him.

Battles between those from Machar’s Nuer community and Kiir’s Dinka people were characterised by brutal violence on both sides, rape and UN warnings about “ethnic cleansing”.

The war has left around 380,000 people dead, forcing more than four million South Sudanese — almost a third of the population — to flee their homes.

Kiir and Machar are meant to reunite in a power-sharing government in less than two weeks, under the terms of the September deal.

Implementation of the peace deal is running behind however, and Machar has called for a delay.

The United States, Norway and Britain — the so-called troika leading diplomacy efforts — said in a statement Tuesday that the peace deal was at a “critical juncture”.

“Any decision on forming the transitional government as scheduled or delaying to a later date should be made through consensus of the parties,” read the statement.

 ‘Lack of political will’ 

South Sudan’s government has previously pushed back against the creation of the court, dismissing it as “a tool of regime change” by foreign partners.

In February a United Nations human rights report on South Sudan said the process of setting up the court had stalled due to “lack of political will and uncertainty about the future of government”.

US Ambassador to South Sudan, Thomas Hushek, described the contract with the lobby group as disturbing.

“This, to me, is very disturbing because this is a commitment made in the peace agreement. The hybrid court is part and parcel of chapter five of the peace agreement,” Hushek said, according to Eye Radio in Juba.

Ranneberger retired in 2016 after a long diplomatic career in Africa, and served as ambassador to Kenya and Somalia from 2006-2011.

While in his post he spoke strongly against corruption in Kenya and angered government when diplomatic cables revealed by WikiLeaks showed him criticising the country’s leaders for graft and political violence.

He was well versed in the crises gripping South Sudan, having helped lead the negotiations between the south and Khartoum, which led to a peace deal in 2005 after a long independence war.

South Sudan later voted in favour of independence from Sudan in a 2011 referendum.

After midwifing its independence, the United States remains South Sudan’s main international donor, providing more than $480 million in humanitarian aid in 2018, according to US State Department figures.

However their patience has worn thin with South Sudan after countless failed peace efforts, and ties between Juba and Washington have chilled.

The US lobbied hard for an arms embargo imposed in 2018 and has also applied sanctions against top officials.

AFP

South Sudan Stays Armed For War Despite Sanctions

 

Despite long-standing restrictions, new weapons have continued to reach South Sudan’s battlefields, often via neighboring countries, a detailed report by an arms monitoring group said on Thursday.

A four-year investigation, by London-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR), into the supply of weapons that have helped keep South Sudan’s civil war alive since December 2013, has revealed the important role played by neighboring countries, particularly Uganda, in circumventing arms embargoes.

While the UN Security Council did not impose an arms embargo on South Sudan until July 2018, more than four years into a war that has killed an estimated 380,000 people, the EU has banned direct sales of weapons by member states to Sudan since 1994, amending the embargo to include newly-independent South Sudan in 2011.

Nevertheless, the government army — known as the SPLA, or Sudan People’s Liberation Army — has been kept well supplied with weaponry, often funneled through Uganda and sometimes originating from Europe or the US.

The rebel SPLA-IO (SPLA In Opposition) has had less success in sourcing weapons, the researchers found, relying heavily on scavenging arms.

CAR executive director James Bevan said his group’s “comprehensive, on-the-ground survey of the weaponry used” included documenting hundreds of weapons and more than 200,000 bullets.

“The result is a forensic picture of how prohibitions on arms transfers to the warring parties have failed,” he said.

 Weapons ‘shopping list’ 

CAR found that, despite numerous allegations and rumors, no new Chinese weapons reached South Sudan after May 2014, six months into the war.

Nevertheless, two large shipments of Chinese weapons to Juba, via Mombasa in Kenya, while legal due to the lack of an arms embargo, ensured the SPLA was well-supplied for the ongoing civil war: the shipments included more than 27 million rounds of small-caliber ammunition, as well as rockets, grenades, missiles, pistols assault rifles, and machine guns.

CAR found that, while Chinese ammunition had previously accounted for “less than two percent” of bullets in circulation in South Sudan, once the shipments arrived over half the ammunition in use was Chinese.

“The logical conclusion is that the 27 million rounds of small-caliber ammunition legally transferred to the SPLA from China in 2014 have sustained SPLA operations in the years since,” CAR said.

Meanwhile, Uganda “has continued to be a conduit for material” to the SPLA, CAR said. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is a stout supporter of South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir.

Kampala is alleged to have transferred to South Sudan weapons legally supplied to Uganda in 2014 and 2015 from manufacturers in Europe and the US, most likely without the knowledge of the companies involved.

The re-transfer of weapons may contravene clauses contained in the so-called end-user certificates that are intended to ensure weapons are used by the countries they are originally sent to.

The armaments have included military aircraft as well as ammunition sold to the Ugandan military.

CAR also found evidence of long-suspected Sudanese weapons deliveries to SPLA-IO, but not recently.

The researchers’ work also underscored how isolated the rebels, under former vice president Riek Machar, have been, leaving fighters short of both external supporters and bullets.

“Despite allegations made by the SPLA during 2017, CAR has found little indication of external resupply to the SPLA-IO since mid-2015,” the report said.

Efforts by Machar in early 2014 to seek delivery of a “shopping list” including 43 million rounds of ammunition, mortars, rockets, rifles and surface-to-air missiles failed.

Instead, rebels have been forced to rely on defections or capturing weapons after battles.

AFP