14 May 2017

South Sudan: Ukraine On the Spot Over Arms Sale to South Sudan

Photo: Jacob Zocherman/IRIN
(File photo).

The United Nations has accused Ukraine of supplying weapons to South Sudan against an international embargo.

A report by the UN Panel of experts (PoE) monitoring the international compliance with the arms embargo on South Sudan, disclosed that Ukraine was supplying weapons that have perpetuated the conflict in the famine-ridden country.

PoE cited the case of an ilyunshinil-76 transport aircraft that departed from Kharkiv airport in Ukraine, bound for Gulu in Uganda on January 27, 2017.

Jets and engines

It said the aircraft manifest indicated that it contained two L-39 jets and engines provided by Musket OU, a company based in Tallinn, that were overhauled, and that the flight was operated by the Ukranian Defence ministry.

"Subsequently, the government of Ukraine confirmed to the Panel that the two jets were listed as being operated by the Ugandan military and that the end user certificates indicated that the aircraft were to be used only for advanced piloting training," the report reads.

However, PoE disclosed it was investigating if the aircraft were transported to South Sudan following reports that there was a new military plane with obscured marking, parked at the Juba International Airport.

During battles

PoE also revealed that it was probing another Hungarian fighter jet pilot Tibor Czingali, who was contracted by the Ugandan Air Force, but had allegedly been seen flying South Sudanese L-39 aircraft.

The experts believed that jets based in Uganda were operating in South Sudan during battles between government forces and rebels.

PoE has recently received documentation from a confidential source that details a contract, signed in June 2014 by two National Security Service officers, for a company based in Seychelles to provide weapons to the South Sudanese Internal Security Bureau of the Service, headed by Akol Koor.

Heavy weapons

The contract sum was reported to be $264 million, covering a large quantity of heavy weapons, small arms and ammunition.

"Among the items are 30 T-55 tanks, 20 ZU-23 anti-aircraft weapons, 5,000 rounds of T-55 tank ammunition, 10 BM-21 "Grad" rocket systems, 10, 000 122-mm M21OF rockets, 3, 000 S8 rockets for Russian-made Mi-24 attack helicopters, 20 million rounds of 7.62X39mm ammunition, 50, 000 AK-47 assault rifles and 12,000 RPG-7 rounds. The Panel is investigating this order to establish whether it was executed as outlined," the report noted.

Key entry points

The panel report also detailed that the border areas between South Sudan, the Sudan and Uganda remained key entry points for arms to Juba, adding that more weapons were reportedly flowing into the war torn country through the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It also alleged that there were persistent reports and public accusations of arms being flown to South Sudan government forces by Egypt.

PoE said it had interviewed one Pierre Dadak, a jailed polish arms dealer who revealed that between January and June 2014, the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army-In Opposition, under Riek Machar command, approached him seeking 40,000 AK-47 rifles, 200,000 boxes of AK-47 ammunition, 30,000 PKM machine guns, 3,000 anti-tank rounds, 300 anti-tank guns and 300 anti-aircraft guns.

Humanitarian crises

South Sudan has been at war since 2013 after a major fallout between President Salva Kiir and Dr Machar.

The country was is currently battling one of the world's biggest humanitarian crises caused by the conflict.

South Sudan

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