Fleeing the threat of famine in South Sudan

PUBLICATION INFO

POSTED 7/6/17

What do you do when faced with the threat of starvation — stay put hoping the situation will improve? Or walk in search of safety and a stable food source? This is the terrible dilemma hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese like 34-year-old Nyarmon are currently facing.

“Every day there was fighting and people running away and now there is no food for my children. The whole village are suffering. I worry for my children,” Nyarmon says.

In February 2017, after years of recurrent fighting, famine was officially declared in parts of Unity State where Nyarmon lives. Nyarmon left her home in Koch County on March 6 and made the arduous seven-day journey with her five small children to the UN Peacekeeping base (POC) in Bentiu where some 120,000 people are currently sheltering from the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.

Until this point she had been walking to and from Bentiu town every few months to try and buy food for the family with money she begged from relatives. She would make the two-week round-trip carrying the sacks of sorghum and her 7-month-old baby Nyachiong. But this became unsustainable. “Sometimes soldiers would even take the food from me on my journey back,” Nyarmon says. “These daily and weekly movements searching for food have led my children to be malnourished.”

The fact that her children were suffering was the final straw for Nyarmon and she made up her mind to move to the POC where at least there was safety, regular food distributions and access to health services for the family. The day after they arrived baby Nyachiong was enrolled in CARE’s outpatient therapeutic feeding centre with severe malnutrition and put on an eight week therapeutic feeding programme.

Hunger is forcing thousands like Nyarmon to flee their homes, seeking shelter in the already overcrowded UN bases. Families tell of days spent foraging in the bush looking for water lily leaves and wild dates in order to survive and risking attacks by the different armed groups working in the area. Others eat only once a day, or sometimes not at all. The declaration of famine was lifted in late spring, but the country is experiencing the most alarming levels of food insecurity in its history. In June and July, the number of people suffering from extreme hunger will hit 6 million, up from 4.9 million in January. That is half of the population in South Sudan – the highest number ever recorded in the country.

The majority of people in the POC would like to return home if possible. Many, like 31-year-old Nyapen Puok, tried to go back during the last harvesting season to cultivate their crops. “We harvested a small amount of food three months ago,” she says, “but then the soldiers came and looted the food and beat us…we kept hoping that things would improve where we were but they didn’t; we didn’t want to come to Bentiu.”

But the perseverance of everyday South Sudanese like Nyapen is indefatigable. Despite the constant beatings, lootings and threat of attacks she, along with many others in the POC, is hoping to go back home again in April to try and plant during the rainy season. “What can we do? We need to eat,” she says.

This sentiment is echoed by Nyarmon, who is also desperately praying for a respite in the fighting to be able to farm again. “If the situation becomes better we will try to go back to cultivate in the next rainy season.”

Link to web article here.

Psalm 2

Why do the nations gather together?
Why do their people devise useless plots?


    Kings take their stands.
    Rulers make plans together
        against the Lord and against his Messiah[a] by saying,
            “Let’s break apart their chains
                and shake off their ropes.”

The one enthroned in heaven laughs.
The Lord makes fun of them.
    Then he speaks to them in his anger.
    In his burning anger he terrifies them by saying,
        “I have installed my own king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

I will announce the Lord’s decree.
He said to me:
    “You are my Son.
        Today I have become your Father.


            Ask me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance
                and the ends of the earth as your own possession.


                    You will break them with an iron scepter.
                    You will smash them to pieces like pottery.”

10 Now, you kings, act wisely.
Be warned, you rulers of the earth!
11     Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12     Kiss the Son, or he will become angry
        and you will die on your way
            because his anger will burst into flames.
Blessed is everyone who takes refuge in him.

GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

Food, seeds bring smiles to South Sudan’s children

CRC provides assistance to thousands of displaced people in Rokon, central Equatoria

  • Cecilia Tabu (12) is waiting for the distribution under a tree. “Normally, our only food is leaves that we cook with salt and water. We have nothing, so today we are happy. We can finally eat something different”, her mother Vajda explains.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • The ICRC distributed seeds, tools and food to some 13,000 people in Rokon, Central Equatoria. The area has been experiencing increased tension and pressure on the host communities, following an influx of internally displaced people.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • The ICRC is distributing different kinds of seeds, including ground nuts, kale, okra, onion, amaranthus and pumpkin.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • “We came here two weeks ago and registered every household. Today, we call them by their first and family names and they have to state their fathers’ name. We do this to verify their identity”, Lucky Anthony, a South Sudan Red Cross volunteer, explains.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • “People in the villages have nothing, so this distribution will help. Some people are dying because of hunger, but I think we will be okay now that we get seeds and tools. The rain is also coming, so we will be able to harvest this after three months”, Ester explains, while caring for her daughter Christin.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • The ICRC provides rations for both the internally displaced people and the host communities. Each household gets one ration each and they are organized in groups of 20 people to share a pile from the assistance.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • “When we have cultivated these crops, you have to come back! You deserve appreciation and we want to cook for you to thank you”, says Mary (40) with her son Angelo (7 months).
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • Cecilia (12) is the middle child among five siblings. She normally goes to school in Rokon, but today is a local holiday because of the distribution. Now, she and her mother Vajda are finally in line to get their seeds, tools and food.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • It takes a lot of preparation to ensure that the distribution is safe and fair. A volunteer of South Sudan Red Cross explains how the beneficiaries should share, to ensure that everyone gets a fair part and to avoid disagreements.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • Cecilia had to flee her home village with her mother and four siblings one year ago. Her father was killed while he was collecting food for the family, and after this her mother decided that their home was not safe anymore. Simple things, like a hoe for cultivation, will help her family get back on their feet.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • “Our life will change now that these items are distributed. It will shift from a bad to a good life. We can finally stop eating leaves, which has been causing diarrhea and making the children sick”, says the mother of Oliver Layo (12) and his brother Manuel (3).
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • “In my home village we have rebels in the bush and the situation is not good. I miss my homeland and I hope I can go back once the crisis is over. My two girls are still there and I worry about them. They are seven and ten years old. It is difficult to reach them, because we lack electricity and sometimes even phone network. I try to send food as often as I can”, Charles explains.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • “I was operated on for hernia and when I survived, I found this cap and felt that I deserved it. I have seven children and they were all very happy when I survived. Now, the wound still hurts when I cultivate, but I hope this distribution will help us”, Henry (42) explains.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
  • “Before the crisis, life was good. We had no hunger. Now we lost all our seeds with the drought, because we lost our crops”, Jennifer explains. She was first in line on the second day of the distribution and got support for her daughter Alice and her other children.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mari Aftret Mortvedt
07 JULY 2017

“I am no longer a happy woman. I fear I will never be happy again, as life is such a struggle,” Vajda, a single mother of five, laments.

One year ago, Vajda had to flee her home village in South Sudan with five young children. Her husband had been killed while getting food for the family, prompting Vajda to leave.

His death was one of thousands in the country since violence broke out in late 2013. The fighting has forced hundreds of thousands across the country to leave their homes, a flight for safety that has led to deep hunger needs.

“In my village, life used to be good,” she said. Now, though, “the conflict has affected my whole life. My husband was a caring man. He was always working and helping us. Now everything depends on me.”

Vajda spoke while sitting on the ground waiting for seeds, tools and food that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is providing to 13,000 people in Rokon, central Equatoria.

Thousands of people have been forced to flee from their land and abandon their belongings in Equatoria, leaving them unable to cultivate the fertile land in the region.

Cyril Jaurena, the head of office for the ICRC in Equatoria, said that the people in this region are used to farming, but they don’t have the opportunity to plant and cultivate crops now.

“By providing them with seeds and tools, we enable them to go back to farming. We also distribute rations of food so the families have something to eat before they can harvest the crops,” Jaurena said.

Even though Vajda and her children are far from home, they have been given a piece of land by the host community to plant crops. “They understand that we did not come by choice,” she said.

Link to web article here.

ICC declines to refer S.A to UN on Sudan’s Bashir arrest

by Reuters 

S.African government loses appeal over failure to arrest Bashir

By Stephanie van den Berg

THE HAGUE – The International Criminal Court on Thursday rebuked South Africa for not arresting Sudan’s president on a genocide warrant when he visited Johannesburg in 2015, but declined to refer Pretoria to the United Nations for possible censure over the lapse.

The ICC indicted Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2008 over the deaths and persecution of ethnic groups in Sudan’s Darfur province between 2003 and 2008. But he has continued to travel internationally, visiting Jordan as recently as March.

The first part of Thursday’s ICC ruling was expected as the war crimes court has consistently rejected arguments put forward by the South African government, namely that it could not arrest Bashir because visiting heads of state at the African Union Summit held in the country enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

ICC judges said that heads of state or government clearly fall under the court’s jurisdiction and cannot be exempted at home or abroad, echoing the conclusion of a South African domestic court.

The second stage of the ruling was surprising as it was the first time the ICC found one of its members had defied its rules, yet took no action by reporting South Africa to the U.N. Security Council or ICC member states for possible censure.

“The decision is something of an indictment of the U.N. Security Council and the (ICC’s) Assembly of State Parties,” ICC expert and legal scholar Mark Kersten told Reuters.

Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser, reading a summary of the ruling, noted that past referrals of countries to the Security Council for noncompliance were “futile” in terms of leading to further action and also “not an effective way to obtain cooperation” with the ICC.

 

BASHIR DENIES WRONGDOING

Bashir denies wrongdoing and has rejected ICC jurisdiction. It was the Security Council itself that referred Sudan’s case to the ICC in 2005.

“It is shocking that other (ICC member states) such as Jordan are also failing in their obligations to arrest Bashir, and this decision makes it clear they do so in flagrant violation of international law,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

The ICC’s decision not to refer South Africa might also be intended in part to dissuade it from pulling out of the court.

In February, the African Union called for member states to leave the ICC over a perceived bias by prosecutors in focusing on African conflicts.

Kenya, Namibia, Burundi and South Africa have threatened to ditch the ICC and Pretoria began the formal withdrawal process last year before being blocked by a domestic court for not getting parliament’s approval first before pulling out.

“I believe (Thursday’s) ruling will raise the costs of withdrawal for South African President Jacob Zuma,” Kersten said.

In The Hague, South African Ambassador Bruce Koloane said that for the time being “(we are) still a member effectively of the ICC, we still have to honour all our obligations”.

In South Africa, opinions on what to do next were divided.

Pretoria’s foreign affairs department said the government would study the ruling “and its implications and seek legal opinion on available options”.

Siphosezwe Masango, who chairs parliament’s international relations committee, said he remained convinced South Africa was right not to arrest Bashir, “a sitting head of state”.

Pretoria’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said the ICC ruling was an indictment of Zuma’s ANC government, noting it had upheld the domestic court’s position.

“The ANC seems intent on relegating South Africa to the status of a scumbag nation which protects the law-breakers and corrupter of this world,” DA Federal Executive Chairperson James Selfe said.

(Additional reporting by James Macharia in Johannesburg, Wendell Roelf in Cape Town, Anthony Deutsch and Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Link to web article here.

South African government ignored court order to arrest Sudan president Omar al-Bashir

North Gauteng High Court wanted him arrested. They did nothing.

Image Credits: File

 

South Africa was judged to have failed in its diplomatic duties by the International Criminal Court on Thursday after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited SA and was not placed under arrest

Al-Bashir is charged with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity for his treatment of the Sudanese people. He assumed the presidency in 1993 and has ruled Sudan tyrannically.

In this country, we can get a warlord in through the backdoor, but we can’t bring in skilled workers with having to spend three months in Home Affairs.

Judge Cuno Tarfusser said SA had a duty to arrest Al-Bashir in June 2015 and surrender him to the courts when he was invited to attend an Africa Union summit in Johannesburg.

However, the government ignored North Gauteng High Court’s order to take him into custody and prevent him leaving the country, to ensure he would face justice for his crimes.

The Sudanese president must have seen the huge neon light above SA that flashes ‘corrupt officials stay here free’.

Al-Bashir was first issued a warrant for arrest by the ICC in March 2009, followed by another charge on July 12th, 2010. The Criminal Court’s announcement comes at a time when relations with South Africa are already strained.

Read: South Africa won’t be leaving the ICC if the DA has anything to do with it

The government have previously responded to the al-Bashir matter by stating that they are planning to withdraw from the Rome Statute.

However, in March this year, the government backed down on that idea, following a ruling by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in February which stipulated that a withdrawal would be unconstitutional and invalid – and needed to be decided on by Parliament.

The ANC’s committee on international relations declared that they will stand by their decision to withdraw from the ICC although they are still having consultations about the process.

Link to web article here.

SA should have arrested Sudan’s al-Bashir, international court rules

Sudan's Omar Al-Bashir and President Jacob Zuma share one of many happy moments. Picture: GCIS

Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir and President Jacob Zuma share one of many happy moments. Picture: GCIS

 

South Africa was under a duty under the Rome Statute to arrest Sudanese President Omar al Bashir when he was in the country in 2015‚ the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Thursday.

By not arresting him‚ South Africa failed in its duty to comply with the court’s request for his surrender.

This prevented the court from exercising its functions and powers‚ the ICC said in its finding.

The court on Thursday made this finding in respect of South Africa’s failure to arrest Al Bashir when he attended an African Union Summit in South Africa in June 2015.

SA had argued for Al Bashir’s immunity under customary international law on account of his position as a sitting head of state‚ and the immunity agreement South Africa concluded with the African Union for the AU heads of state summit.

The court said it did not agree with this submission.

It said Article 27.2 of the Statute excluded the immunity for heads of state from arrest.

The court said the court’s jurisdiction to act was triggered by the United Nation’s security council resolution‚ which referred the prosecution in Darfur to the prosecutor in the ICC.

The ICC had issued a warrant for his arrest in 2009 and another in 2010 on charges of war crimes allegedly committed in his country between 2003 and 2008.

Al Bashir arrived in South Africa to attend the African Union Summit‚ despite there being a warrant for his arrest issued by the ICC.

South Africa‚ as a signatory of the Rome Statute and having enacted a local law adopting the statute‚ was bound to execute the warrant of arrest.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) sought the execution of the ICC warrant.

Despite a court order instructing the state to ensure it prevented Al-Bashir from leaving the country‚ the Sudanese president left South Africa after the summit.

– TimesLIVE

Link to web article here.

South Sudan rebels warn of “river of body bags” as fighting rages in Upper Nile

 

Pagak/Juba, July 6, 2017 (SSNA) — Heavy fighting between government and rebel forces have resumed in and around Upper Nile’s Guelguk and Mathiang towns, the South Sudan News Agency(SSNA) has learned.

Senior rebel military officers told the SSNA in Pagak that a combination of government, Sudanese rebels, and militias have launched surprise attacks on rebel positions in and around Mathiang and Guelguk, causing civilians to flee their homes.

Rebels said they lured in heavily armed government convoy of specialized military armored trucks into Mathiang and Guelguk thinking that they captured them without a fight.

“We knew they were coming. So, what we did was to leave major areas to fool them into believing that they capture our bases,” SPLA-IO military intelligence officer Khamis Mawwil told the SSNA in Pagak.

“There will be a river of body bags if they think they can take over our areas in Upper Nile,” he warned.

The armed opposition also states that Juba attacked their areas because it doesn’t want any revitalization of the 2015 South Sudan peace deal.

Rebels said they have recaptured both Mathiang and Guelguk Thursday and that they inflicted heavy losses on the government forces, adding, “We captured many of their weapons and military trucks.”

A senior government official who refused to be identified told the SSNA in Juba that the goal of the government is to take full control of Gaatjaak areas and then replace rebel institutions with government ones.

The South Sudan News Agency has learned that after Juba-backed troops captured Mathiang and Guelguk, a unit of government forces was sent to Thoch with instruction to attack the SPLA-IO areas and proceed to Maiwut and Pagak.

However, South Sudanese government forces panicked Thursday evening after SPLA Bilpham General Headquarters in Juba informed them that rebel forces retook Guelguk and Mathiang.

The South Sudan News Agency was told by a senior rebel General that at least five SPLA-IO low-level officers who were caught communicating with government troops were arrested by the SPLA-IO military intelligence unit and taken to unknown location.

The officer refused to identify the identities of the officers alleged to have been secretly collaborating with the government forces.

There was no immediate comment from the SPLA-IO’s Spokesman, Brig. General William Gatjiath Deng.

However, minutes after the South Sudan News Agency published the report, SPLA-IO’s Spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Deng, released an official statement confirming the fighting.

“In the Mangok, Mathiang, Malou and Biot fighting, the gallant SPLA-IO forces of Division Five (5) under the command of Cdr Major General Khor Chuol Giet and Deputy Sector Four (4) Commander Major General Peter Lim Bol resisted and repulsed the Juba regime aggression from the Guelguk direction back to their Malou temporary trenches, where their remnants are now being contained,” Deng said.

Deng added that Juba-backed forces suffered both in material and human losses.

“In this intense fighting, the Juba regime suffered a very debilitating loss both in human and materially. In terms of human, the Juba regime lost some seventy-four (74) soldiers, including eight (8) officers, on spot. This is in addition to those injured and without access to any food or medical attention whatsoever. Materially, the Juba regime abandoned one (1) Worrol mounted with 14 (4) barrels and other four (4) land cruisers mounted with 12.7mm machine guns,” he said.

“In this intense fighting, the Juba regime suffered a very debilitating loss both in human and materially. In terms of human, the Juba regime lost some seventy-four (74) soldiers, including eight (8) officers, on spot. This is in addition to those injured and without access to any food or medical attention whatsoever. Materially, the Juba regime abandoned one (1) Worrol mounted with 14 (4) barrels and other four (4) land cruisers mounted with 12.7mm machine guns,” he said.

Brig. General Deng accuses Juba of believing only in action, warning, “the armed opposition will no longer entertain any further provocations and aggressions anywhere in South Sudan.”

Deng further reveals that fighting between the rival forces has also been intensifying in Equatoria region.

Link to web article here.

Making a Fortune While Making a Famine

The illustrative case of a South Sudanese general

While South Sudanese people are starving by the tens of thousands and war rages on, a small group of senior military officers have gotten rich. This brief from The Sentry presents the case of one influential general whose military strategies helped create the famine. This general’s case illustrates how the deliberate absence of the rule of law provides the potential for immense financial benefits for the leaders of South Sudan’s regime and how current incentives favor extreme violence and grand corruption over peace and good governance.

A recent U.N.-declared famine in South Sudan’s Unity state has left 100,000 people at immediate risk of dying of starvation.[i] All told, an estimated 7.5 million people in South Sudan—more than half the country’s population—urgently need assistance.[ii]The cause of this famine is not a mystery. Government and rebel forces have used specific tactics to produce mass displacement and famine in South Sudan, particularly through the massive cattle raids undertaken by government-backed forces, attacks on agricultural areas, and the seeding of intercommunal violence beyond clashes between government forces and armed opposition groups.[iii]

The names of the men who are responsible for planning and executing a brutal military campaign in Unity state in 2015—an offensive that laid the groundwork for the outbreak of the famine—are not secret. According to the U.N. Panel of Experts on South Sudan, the offensive was planned and executed by a group of senior military officials who were close to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.[iv]Furthermore, while much of the country starves, some of these same military officers appear to have been getting rich. They profit from insider deals, move their fortunes through large international banks, and often use their children to keep their names off of company records. Many of these senior officials do not appear to conceal their fortunes from other insiders, as they often do business together and own homes close to one another outside South Sudan.[v]

Lt. Gen. Malek Reuben Riak is one of the senior generals that the U.N. panel has identified as responsible for the violence in Unity state that directly led to the famine. A close examination of his business activities helps illustrate the warped incentives that motivate senior military officials in South Sudan. Looking at this illustrative example of just a slice of corrupt economic activity by just one of the leading generals demonstrates how deeply the incentives favor violence and instability over peace and democratic governance.

Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak was promoted by President Kiir to Deputy Chief of Staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in January 2013. Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak held that position—which involved a central role in weapons procurement for the national army—for the first several years of the civil war, until March 2016, when he became Deputy Chief of Staff of the SPLA for Training. On May 24, 2017, President Salva Kiir promoted Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak to Deputy Chief of Defense Staff and Inspector General of the army.  According to South Sudan’s national budget, in 2014 and 2015, the salary for a general of this rank was approximately $40,000 per year, including a housing stipend.[vi]

But procuring weapons and planning brutal military offensives are only Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak’s day job.

As reported in War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay in September 2016, The Sentry has documents that show $3.03 million moving through Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak’s personal bank account—a U.S. dollar-denominated account at Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB)—between January 2012 and early 2016. Financial transactions reviewed by The Sentry and discussed in its September 2016 report showed millions of dollars passing through Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak’s personal bank account at KCB, including more than $700,000 in cash deposits and large payments from several international construction companies operating in South Sudan. These payments came from companies backed by Chinese, Lebanese, and Turkish investors. These include hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments and cash deposits into the account since the war in South Sudan began in December 2013. In that same period, over $1.16 million was withdrawn from Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak’s account, in his own name or as “cash.” Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak also has acquired stakes in numerous companies incorporated in South Sudan, including engineering and energy companies.[vii]

Information provided to The Sentry after publication of its September 2016 report provides more clarity about the nature and extent of Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak’s business operations in South Sudan and his links with multinational corporations, banks, and foreign politicians. This report uses this new information to take a closer look at Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak’s business activities. One important finding is that Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak controls a private business called Mak International Services that sells explosives to private companies operating in South Sudan—an arrangement that has been not only endorsed but also promoted on an exclusive basis by the military in which he holds a key leadership role.[viii] According to other documents reviewed by The Sentry, Lt. Gen Reuben Riak also sits, along with several other senior generals, on the board of a holding company that has joint ventures with foreign investors and appears to be active in South Sudan’s mining and construction sectors.[ix] This Sentry report also reviews documents detailing how Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak’s family members appear to be representing his interests on several commercial ventures, often alongside the family members of other senior government officials in South Sudan.[x] This report also examines documents that purport to show that Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak and members of his family jointly own businesses with members of the political elite in neighboring Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.

The case of Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak illustrates a broader pattern in South Sudan in which powerful officials work closely together in a relatively small network and preside over the country’s violent kleptocratic system of government. They get rich while the rest of the country suffers the consequences of a brutal civil war and a horrific famine. Their business interests often intersect with one another and with those of officials in neighboring countries, undermining the credibility of diplomatic processes designed to promote peace and possibly compromising those involved in negotiations. Protecting this network’s position in power means continued access to rent-seeking opportunities as well as continued impunity for corruption and involvement in human rights abuses.

The case of Lt. Gen Reuben Riak does not just support the case that top South Sudanese officials are getting rich off of conflict. The case also illustrates the significant untapped leverage held by the international community vis-à-vis these officials. Documents reviewed by The Sentry indicate that Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak has used international banks to move millions of U.S. dollars and he conducts business with international investors.[xi] Foreign governments—especially the U.S. government—are in a position to curb his ability to access the international financial system. This is because virtually all transactions that are conducted in U.S. dollars pass through the U.S. financial system, even if only for a split second. As a result, the U.S. government has jurisdiction over these financial flows and, in turn, the ability to scrutinize and stop them. This report concludes by presenting how the U.S. and other governments can more effectively use the tools of financial pressure—namely sanctions and anti-money laundering provisions—to impose steep consequences on the top officials who are responsible for South Sudan’s horrific civil war and resultant famine. In this case, the United States should impose network sanctions (i.e., asset freezes targeting a network of individuals and entities, rather than a single person) on Lt. Gen. Reuben Riak and the companies he owns or controls.

Download Full Report

[i] Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, “Localized famine and unprecedented levels of acute malnutrition in Greater Unity – almost 5 million people in need of urgent assistance,” February 20, 2017, available at http://www.ipcinfo.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ipcinfo/docs/1_IPC_Alert_6_SouthSudan_Crisis_Feb2017.pdf.

[ii] U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “South Sudan: Humanitarian Snapshot April 2017,” available at http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/170508_South_Sudan_Humanitarian_Snapshot_April_2017.pdf.

[iii] See, for example, George Clooney and John Prendergast, “South Sudan’s Government-Made Famine,” The Washington Post, March 9, 2017, available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/03/09/south-sudans-government-made-famine/?utm_term=.5f29b091777e.

[iv] U.N. Security Council, “Final report of the Panel of Experts in accordance with paragraph 18 (d) of resolution 2206 (2015),” S/2016/70, p. 19, January 26, 2016, available at http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2016/70.

[v] This case is discussed in detail in The Sentry, “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay: Stopping the looting and destruction in South Sudan” (Washington: September 2016), available at https://thesentry.org/reports/warcrimesshouldntpay/.

[vi] Government of South Sudan Ministry of Finance, Commerce, Investment & Economic Planning, “Approved Budget Tables Financial Year 2014/15,” August 2014, p. 36, “Security [forces]” table, available at http://grss-mof.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/08/RSS-Approved-Budget-Book-2014-15.pdf. Some current and former South Sudanese government officials have told The Sentry that senior officials can find ways of supplementing their income through per diem payments and expense accounts. However, any such sources of income have not been accounted for in South Sudan’s national budget.

[vii] This case is discussed in detail in The Sentry, “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay,” pp. 43-45.

[viii] Letter from Wu Kaibing (Chief Representative, China Wu Yi Engineering (S S) Co., Ltd.), October 18, 2016.

[ix] An October 20, 2010 resolution by the Board of Directors of Bright Star International Corporation Limited provides Gen. Malual Ayom with “special power of attorney” and authorizes him to form a joint venture with Double “A” Construction (SS) Co. Ltd. The document is signed by Oyay Deng Ajak, Bior Ajang Duot, James Hoth Mai, Pieng Deng Kuol, Malek Reuben Riak, and Salva Mathok Gengdit.

[x] Articles of Association for Eastern Mountain Ltd., March 6, 2012; Articles of Association for All Engineering, October 21, 2015; Jubilee Bank Company Ordinary Resolution No. 1 of 2013, May 27, 2013.

[xi] The Sentry, “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay,” pp. 43-45

Link to web article here.

A Trump decision within the week may accelerate genocide in Darfur

Photo: YouTube

By Eric Reeves

July 6, 2017 (SSNA) — Within the coming week the Trump administration will make a decision unlikely to break through the furor of bizarre presidential behavior, the health care debate, or any of the foreign policy issues that have dominated the past six months—from North Korea to ISIS and Syria to relations with Europe to dangerous frictions among the Gulf States.

But the decision—whether to make permanent President Obama’s lifting of U.S. economic sanctions on the Khartoum regime in Sudan—will have immense implications for the people of that desperate country. And for the western Darfur region, a permanent lifting of sanctions will likely result in cataclysmic human destruction. Perhaps not immediately, although there will be significant and direct consequences for the 3 million non-Arab/African Darfuris displaced from their homes and lands (http://sudanreeves.org/2017/05/22/displacement-in-sudan-and-darfur-un-figures-continue-to-be-careless-or-inadequate/ ). But sooner or later many of these desperate people will join the more than half a million people who have already died, directly or indirectly, from violence unleashed over the past fourteen years during Khartoum’s genocidal counter-insurgency in the region (http://sudanreeves.org/2017/04/27/violent-mortality-in-the-darfur-genocide-a-matter-of-international-indifference-and-prevarication/ ).

Who has said that that the violence was genocidal? For the moment, let’s focus on senior members of the Obama administration, beginning with Senator, candidate and President Obama himself. He campaigned declaring that Darfur was a “stain on our souls,” and that he would never “turn a blind eye” to such human slaughter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEd583-fA8M/). His National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, wrote in these pages during the Bush administration that genocide was occurring in Darfur and that the U.S. should be prepared to undertake unilateral humanitarian intervention if necessary to stop it (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64717-2004May28.html?utm_source=huffingtonpost.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pubexchange_article/). Obama’s Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, also wrote frequently and powerfully about Darfur, and did not hesitate to use the “g-word” (https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/video/samantha-power-responding-genocide-darfur/).

Did the genocide somehow stop? Did it burn out? There is absolutely no evidence that this is the case. Indeed, beginning in the 2012 – 2013 dry season, violence escalated dramatically, particularly in the region known as East Jebel Marra. This violence was perpetrated chiefly by Khartoum’s new Arab militia force, the heavily armed and well-organized “Rapid Support Forces” (RSF). An important report from Human Rights Watch (September 2015 | https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/09/09/men-no-mercy/rapid-support-forces-attacks-against-civilians-darfur-sudan ) gave us our best insight into the character of RSF violence—and the ambitions of the Khartoum regime. Vice President Hassabo Abdelrahman delivered a speech to the RSF in December 2014, according to a defecting militiaman, in which he declared:

“Hassabo told us to clear the area east of Jebel Marra.

To kill any male. He said we want to clear the area of insects…

He said East Jebel Marra is the kingdom of the rebels.

We don’t want anyone there to be alive.”

The chilling echoes of the Rwanda genocide and Hutu characterizations of Tutsis as “cockroaches” has been remarked by no one in the Obama administration—or to date by the Trump administration. But in fact Hassabo’s comments had ample precedent in Darfur, perhaps most notoriously in a memo ten years earlier from the headquarters of brutal Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal: “Change the demography of Darfur…empty it of African tribes.”

Khartoum’s human rights record continues to be abominable, as does its persecution of Sudan’s small Christian population. And yet current U.S. Charge d’Affaires Steven Koutsis recently gave an interview in which he declared emphatically that issues of human rights, political and religious persecution, and freedom of expression were irrelevant to the decision about sanctions:

“None of these other issues were the point of sanctions, and none of these other issues, therefore, should be linked to the lifting of sanctions.” (Agence France-Presse, June 24, 2017 | http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-4635304/Sudan-positive-steps-meeting-sanctions-terms-US-envoy.html/)

But Koutsis is dead wrong: the Preface to the Executive Order by President Clinton imposing economic sanctions in 1997 explicitly asserts that in addition to the Khartoum regime’s support for international terrorism, sanctions were being imposed because of “the prevalence of human rights violations, including slavery and the denial of religious freedom” (https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Documents/13067.pdf /). Unsurprisingly, Sudan remains one of only three countries remaining on the State Department’s annual list of “state sponsors of terrorism.”

Perhaps the most egregious violation of international human rights law in the recent past occurred last year during Khartoum’s savage military campaign against the people of the Jebel Marra region in central Darfur. Amnesty International published an exhaustively researched report in September 2016, demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that Khartoum had used chemical weapons against civilians nowhere near the fighting (https://www.amnestyusa.org/reports/scorched-earth-poisoned-air-sudanese-government-forces-ravage-jebel-marra-darfur/). Most of the victims were young children. The international community has been silent about Amnesty’s finding—indeed, in an action grotesque even by African Union standards, seven AU members elected Khartoum to the position of Vice-President of the executive body of the Organization for the Prohibition of chemical weapons, the very body with a mandate to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use (https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/03/sudan-elevation-to-opcws-governing-body-a-slap-in-the-face-for-victims-of-chemical-attacks/).

Certainly the Sudanese economy is a mess. But that isn’t a function of U.S. sanctions, which have been largely undermined by French banking giant BNP Paribas, convicted in 2015 of massive criminal violation of U.S. financial sanctions (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-bnp-paribas-settlement-idUSKBN0F52HA20140701/). The Khartoum regime is a powerful, ruthless kleptocracy—maintaining a monopoly on Sudanese national wealth and power since it came to power as the National Islamic Front on June 30, 1989—28 years ago (http://sudanreeves.org/2015/12/09/7041/). It has failed to invest in infrastructure, agriculture, or health services. It failed to anticipate the consequences of the loss of oil revenue with the 2011 secession of South Sudan and now confronts staggering inflation, a plummeting currency, and an almost complete lack of foreign exchange currency (Forex) with which to import critical commodities, including wheat for bread, cooking fuel, and essential medicines.

The Sudanese people—across the political spectrum—desperately want range change; they have been told by the U.S., however that this is not what we want:

“We [the Obama administration] do not want to see the ouster of the [Khartoum] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.” (Interview with Asharq al-Awsat, December 3, 2011 | http://english.aawsat.com/2011/12/article55244147/asharq-al-awsat-talks-to-us-special-envoy-to-sudan-princeton-lyman)

The notion that this brutal, profoundly repressive, and serially genocidal regime is capable of “carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures” is simply too preposterous to take seriously. Rather, it is the way in which the Obama administration, and so far the Trump administration, choose to put a fig-leaf over the real reason they want to keep the regime in power: supposedly valuable counter-terrorism intelligence, this from one of three countries that remains on the State Department’s annual listing of “state sponsors of terrorism.” But whatever the putative value of counter-terrorism intelligence expediently provided by the regime, is this really the time to be giving such brutal men an economic and financial lifeline? denying Sudanese people their political aspirations and ensuring that the regime feels it has a “green light” to continue its genocidal ways in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile?

There was a time before the Obama administration when Americans broadly said “no!” That should be our answer now.

Eric Reeves is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights.

Link to web article here.

WAR CRIMES COURT TO RULE ON SA’S FAILURE TO ARREST SUDAN’S AL-BASHIR

The ruling will be closely watched for its possible implications for Bashir and other sitting heads of state as well as for the court itself.

FILE: Omar Hassan al-Bashir. AFP
Link to web article here.

AMSTERDAM – Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will rule on Thursday on whether South Africa violated ICC rules by failing to arrest Sudan’s president during a 2015 visit to Johannesburg, in a case that will test international support for the court.

There is an outstanding ICC warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir‘s arrest on genocide charges, which he denies.

Thursday’s ruling will be closely watched for its possible implications for Bashir and other sitting heads of state as well as for the court itself.

If the ICC rules that South Africa’s decision to let Bashir go was an act of non-compliance, the court could then either report Pretoria to the UN Security Council or to the ICC’s own member states. In either case, South Africa would only likely suffer the diplomatic setback of a court reprimand, rather than any further fine or sanction.

It is also possible that the court may accept South Africa’s argument that it was not obliged to implement the warrant.

Pretoria has argued that the ICC’s warrant for Bashir’s arrest was void in the face of a South African law that grants sitting heads of state immunity from prosecution, in line with the customary international law.

However, the ICC’s statutes explicitly state that sitting heads of states do not have immunity in war crimes cases.

Bashir, who came to power in Sudan in a 1989 Islamist and military-backed coup, was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity in 2008 over the deaths and persecution of ethnic groups in the Darfur province.

He denies the charges and continues to travel abroad, trailed by human rights activists and shunned by Western diplomats.

Though Sudan is not a member of the ICC, the court has jurisdiction there due to a 2005 UN Security Council resolution that referred the conflict to the Hague court.

The ICC faces the risk that any action it takes will only underline waning international support for its own existence.

The United States, Russia and China never became ICC members. In Africa, resentment over the court’s indictments of Africans has led Kenya to threaten withdrawal, and the African Union also called in February for mass withdrawals.

South Africa has gone further, formally notifying the United Nations last year that it intended to withdraw from the court.

Earlier this year a domestic South African court blocked the move over procedural issues, but authorities said as recently as last week that they would press ahead with the withdrawal.