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Corruption on Epic Scale Robs Future of South Sudan’s People, UN Report Finds

Family tries to cross flooded area after Nile river overflows in central South Sudan.
Family tries to cross flooded area after Nile river overflows in central South Sudan.

U.N. Investigators warn peace in South Sudan and the future of its people are being compromised by deeply entrenched government corruption. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has submitted its latest report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The report presents a deeply disturbing picture of a country mired in crooked schemes aimed at enriching the political elite at the expense of millions of impoverished people who are bearing the scars of years of conflict and abuse.

Commission chair Yasmin Sooka says South Sudan is a country where lives are being destroyed by financial corruption on an epic scale. She says looting and pillage are not just offshoots of war, they are the main drivers of the conflict.

“At one end of the spectrum, South Sudan’s political elites are fighting for control of the country’s oil and mineral resources, in the process stealing their people’s future," she said. "At the other, the soldiers in this conflict over resources are offered the chance to abduct and rape women in lieu of their salaries.”

Sooka says the commission has uncovered brazen embezzlement by senior politicians and the government. She says they have misappropriated a staggering $36 million since 2016. She says a number of international corporations and multinational banks have aided and abetted in these crimes.

The report documents widespread human rights violations and internecine situations that are tearing communities apart and fueling ethnic and religious hatred. All this, it says, is depressing efforts to truly establish a peaceful government of unity.

The commission says the establishment of the Hybrid Court, composed of judges and prosecutors from South Sudan and across Africa, is the only way to end the country’s crisis.

South Sudan’s minister of justice and constitutional affairs, Reuben Mado Arol acknowledges his country’s checkered human rights record. However, he says his government does not condone any form of violence and human rights violations committed against civilians have reduced significantly.

He says his government has established an economic management committee to address the country’s difficult economic situation.

“The committee starts to streamline the collection of non-oil revenues and monitor all financial transactions for transparency and accountability," he said. "With this, we are sure that it will produce good outcomes that will enable the Government to focus on developmental projects.”

The justice minister says the government is committed to the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement. He appeals to the international community to provide the necessary support to enable his country to realize this.