Uganda, a key broker of the latest deal to end South Sudan’s civil war diverted weapons to South Sudan’s military despite an EU arms embargo, a new report by Conflict Armament Research says.
It also asks how a U.S. military jet ended up deployed in South Sudan in possible violation of arms export controls.
The new report is a “forensic picture of how prohibitions on arms transfers to the warring parties have failed,” said Conflict Armament Research’s executive director, James Bevan.
Uganda bought arms and ammunition from at least three EU members — Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia — that were diverted to South Sudan’s military and armed allies in Sudan.
With the Bulgarian weapons, “South Sudan arranged for Uganda to issue end-user certificates (the essential paperwork for an international arms transfer) ... to make it look like these weapons were for the use of the Ugandan armed forces when in fact they were always destined for South Sudan,” said Mike Lewis, the head of regional operations for Conflict Armament Research.
The report also describes how a network of “jointly owned Ugandan and U.S. companies — controlled by British, Israeli, Ugandan, and U.S. nationals — procured a military jet from the United States and an Austrian-made surveillance aircraft, which one of these companies delivered into service with (South Sudan’s military) in 2015 and 2016, respectively.”
Based on interviews and commercial documents, the report found that the company, Yamasec, transferred both aircraft to South Sudan’s military. The U.S. military jet, after being used by Uganda’s air force, was deployed in South Sudan in 2016, overflying armed opposition targets along with attack helicopters.
Sudan in the past also supplied Chinese-made ammunition to South Sudan’s armed opposition.