The government has dismissed as “fake” the recent report that accused the army and the SPLA-IO of deliberately using starvation as a method of warfare in South Sudan.
Last week, the UN Human Rights Commissioned published a 46-page report on how armed forces exerted collective punishment and starvation on civilians in Western Bahr el Ghazal, Jonglei, and Central Equatoria states.
It found that food insecurity in the three states is linked directly to the conflict and therefore almost entirely human-induced.
The commission further revealed that the warring parties used starvation sometimes as an instrument to punish non-aligning communities, as in the case of Jonglei.
It also highlighted how, between January 2017 and November 2018, government forces intentionally deprived communities living under the control of the opposition in Western Bahr el Ghazal State of critical resources.
The report mentioned that these systematic attacks resulted in food insecurity compounded by physical insecurity, for civilians to flee.
The commission affirmed that these were deliberate strategies by the then-government and the SPLA-IO to use starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, amounted to acts constituting war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Responding to the report, the government spokesperson, Michael Makuei, says the government has never denied civilians access to food.
“There is nothing as such, we have never used hunger as a weapon or starve the people of South Sudan in order to fight our war. Never,” Makuei told the media on Wednesday.
“So those who get such information, be informed that those are reports that President Trump calls ‘fake’ reports.”
He also reiterated his past assertions that such reports are ill-informed.
“What I know is that these are reports which are written by individuals who sleep in the hotels in Juba, and they must write something about South Sudan,” he asserted.
But the UN Human Rights Commission insists that sufficient evidence exists to hold to account commanders of both SSPDF and SPLA-IO for arbitrarily denying humanitarian aid to civilians, including pursuing policies and actions amounting to intentionally using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.
It recommended that the transitional government prevent, investigate, and punish those responsible for starvation related crimes under the Geneva Conventions Act 2012, and other relevant laws of South Sudan.