Starvation is being used as a weapon of war by South Sudan government forces against their own citizens, an investigation by law firm Global Rights Compliance.
Deliberate starvation tactics used by government forces and allied militia, and by opposition forces, are driving civilians out of their homes, exacerbating Africa’s largest refugee crisis. All parties to the conflict have committed widespread human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, said the report
Starvation tactics include the large-scale and systematic burning and razing of homes and property; destruction of food crops and markets; and targeted attacks on humanitarian aid workers. The devastation has forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee, mainly to refugee camps in northern Uganda.
Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University and an expert on the Horn of Africa, said starvation crimes perpetrated by South Sudanese government forces are well documented.
Yasmin Sooka, chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, said: “The people we meet tell us repeatedly that the only way the killings, rape and sexual violence, looting and pillage will stop is if those responsible for the violations are held criminally accountable. Impunity for these serious violations since 2013 has got us to this desperate point, where most South Sudanese are unable to feed themselves and rely mainly on humanitarian assistance.”
“We are really disturbed by soldiers, the very people who should protect civilians,” one woman told researchers. “We have seen an increase of cases of looting, even when people are raped, they are also robbed of money and food. We understand the soldiers are looting because they have not been paid for months. What does the government expect if they give their unpaid servants guns?”