A United Nation’s (UN) panel of experts has found evidence that the war in South Sudan is being fuelled by “well-established networks” of arms suppliers in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
In a confidential report to the Security Council (SC) the panel stated that the arms deals involve Israeli and Bulgarian firms.
Dating back to 2014 the arms deals illustrate “the well-established networks through which weapons procurement is coordinated from suppliers in Eastern Europe and the Middle East and then transferred through middlemen in eastern Africa to South Sudan,” the report explained.
The UN experts are investigating arms trafficking networks based in Europe that have received an “extensive list of small arms, munitions and light weapons” from rebels in 2014. A Bulgarian network delivered a shipment of small arms ammunition and 4,000 assault rifles to Uganda in 2014 which were then transferred to South Sudan.
Rebel fighters loyal to Reik Machar were recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo armed with Israeli-made automatic rifles bought as part of a stock sold to Uganda in 2007. The weapons were then taken from South Sudanese government stocks captured during fighting or from defectors according to the report.
The Israeli-made rifles were most likely part of a group of weapons transferred to South Sudan from Uganda.
The SC threatened to impose arms embargoes on South Sudan in a bid to end the fighting that has killed thousands of people and driven 2.5 million from their homes.