The U.N. monitors said, "The government has during much of 2017 deliberately prevented life-saving food assistance from reaching some citizens," the monitors wrote. "These actions amount to using food as a weapon of war with the intent to inflict suffering on civilians the government views as opponents to its agenda...The denial of aid had caused extreme food insecurity among large sections of the population, with malnutrition and death by starvation the documented outcome, in particular in the Greater Baggari area in Wau County." The U.N. monitors reported that the government had regularly denied humanitarian aid access to certain parts of the population, in particular areas outside the town of Wau. "One of those areas, Greater Baggari, is noteworthy for the persistent and systematic nature of the government's access denials, and the catastrophic humanitarian conditions that have resulted."
In August, the government eased restrictions, allowing aid groups to distribute food and lifesaving assistance to more than 12,000 people in Greater Baggari. Villages had been looted and burned and crops destroyed, the U.N. monitors wrote.
South Sudan spiraled into civil war in late 2013, two years after gaining independence from Sudan, and a third of the 12 million population has fled their homes. The conflict was sparked by a feud between Kiir, a Dinka, and his former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer, who is being held in South Africa. The United Nations has warned that the violence in South Sudan was providing "fertile ground" for a genocide. The U.N. monitors found that despite the catastrophic conditions across South Sudan, armed forces, groups and militias - particularly those affiliated with Kiir and Vice President Taban Deng Gai - continued to "actively impede both humanitarian and peacekeeping operations."