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  • on 29.06.2012
  • at 11:23 AM
  • by Randa Ghazy

South Sudan: foreign arms fueling conflict says Amnesty 0

Juba – Rights group Amnesty international has reported that foreign arms from China, Ukraine and Sudan are fueling conflict in the newly independent South Sudan.

The report examines the impact of irresponsible supplies and misuse of weapons, munitions and armaments have led to several rebel movements springing up in the south.The group says a “ready flow of weapons” includes Sudanese weapons, Chinese landmines and Ukrainian tanks.

The Overshadowed Conflict, Arms supplies fuel violations in Mayom County, Unity State report accounts of indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas by government forces, SPLA, and other armed rebel groups in the state resulting in civilian casualties and several displacements of people.

The US-based group has called for “a strong and robust treaty with rules to end the irresponsible arms transfers” it says are likely to cause serious human rights violations, ahead of the inter-governments assembly for the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations at the UN headquarters.

“Governments must immediately stop supplying South Sudan with conventional arms which have been used to commit violations of international humanitarian and human rights law until adequate systems of training and accountability are in place,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Director.

There have been repeated incidents of civilians being killed or injured according to the report, during fighting between the SPLA and rebels which have been characterized by indiscriminate firing and shelling.

The government forces have appeared to justify attacks against civilians and their property over what they claim as communities show support for the armed opposition.

There has been no official reaction from any of the countries accused in the arms trade, as another organisation, Small Arms Survey, has come up with similar findings about origin of the arms.

South Sudan marks its first independence anniversary next month, following secession from the north after a successful vote in January last year, which was part of the 2005 peace accord that ended decades of north-south conflict.

The Juba government continues to be plagued with armed civil conflicts and the oil row with the North that saw it shut down its productions over disputed transit fees. South Sudan ended up with most of the area’s oil fields, although it has to export the oil using pipelines through ports in Khartoum’s territory.

Bamako, Mali

Mali Islamists Seize Northern Town from Tuareg Rebels

Islamist forces in northern Mali have seized the desert town of Gao from Tuareg separatists in the region, following fierce gun battles on Wednesday.

At least 20 people have died in the crossfire in the intensifying battle, between the Tuareg-led MNLA and the al-Qaeda-linked MUJWA Islamists, over control of the expansive desert zone a significant transit and smuggling area.

The Tuaregs are seeking a secular north they refer to as the independent state of Azawad, while the Islamists want to impose Islamic rule in the region.

Tension has been simmering between the two groups which jointly fought for control of the northern territory and since April the well armed Islamists have been taking over buildings in the town occupied by Tuaregs including their headquarters.

Fighting in Gao comes a day after residents held demonstrations in the town after a local official was killed on Monday. Most of those killed and injured in the heavy fighting were said to be armed, but a number of civilians were also caught in the fighting.

A spokesman for the MNLA reported that the group’s political leader Bilal Ag Cherif was wounded during the Tuesday’s clashes but was in a stable condition, and had been taken to neighbouring country for treatment.

Both sides have been accused of using heavy weapons that have caused huge destructions, with each side being reported of launching rockets at each other. Residents in the northern town of Timbuktu say they have seen armed convoy of the local Ansar Dine Islamist group, allied to MUJWA head for Gao to reinforce against MNLA which they say they want to wipe out.

The UN Security Council has expressed support for military intervention by Mali’s neighbours but first needs more details of their plans to counter the fighting that has raised fear of Mali becoming a potential launchpad for Jihadi actions.

In March renegade Malian troops led by Captain Amadou Sanogo deposed President Amadou Toumani Toure in what they claim was in response to the government’s inability to suppress the Tuareg-led rebellion that saw attack of several attacks of government barracks in the north.

The recent offence by the Tuareg rebels had been aided by return of heavily armed and experienced Tuareg many of whom fled drought and discontent under a southern government to fight alongside the fallen Col Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya.

Source: News from Africa

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