Reaching for the gun
Small Arms Survey, Human Security Baseline Assessment 19, April 2012
Arms flows and holdings in South Sudan
Since independence on 9 July 2011, South Sudan’s political and military leaders have faced a growing number of armed conflicts both within and beyond their borders. Externally, proxy wars erupted in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in June and September 2011, respectively; this followed the Sudan Armed Forces’ (SAF) occupation of Abyei in May, resulting in armed conflict along much of the shared border with Sudan, including direct fighting around Heglig in late March 2012. Inside South Sudan, a growing number of well-armed insurgent commanders launched rebellions against the Southern government and army in 2010 and 2011, destabilizing large parts of the Greater Upper Nile region.1 Simultaneously, conflict
between the Lou Nuer and Murle has exploded into the worst ‘inter-tribal’ armed violence in years.
Steady supplies of small arms and light weapons to all parties are fuelling these conflicts, threatening to extend and prolong them significantly. Since independence, official bans on materiel acquisitions by the Government of South
Sudan (GoSS) have been lifted and the government is exploring expanded defence contracts with a number of interested states. At the same time, an increasing number of non-state actors in South Sudan, including tribal groups and rebel militia groups, are acquiring weapons illicitly at what appear to be increasingly rapid rates. As the demand for weapons in South Sudan grows, external actors are meeting supply needs.
This Issue Brief reviews arms flows and holdings among both state and non-state armed forces as of early 2012, situating recent developments against historical trends and patterns of supply. It updates a previous HSBA report on small arms and light weapons flows and holdings in Sudan from December 2009.
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