NEW YORK — The United Nations Security Council voted on Thursday to extend an arms embargo in South Sudan despite strong criticism against the motion from China and Russia.
The UN Security Council voted by a narrow margin on Thursday to extend an arms embargo on South Sudan and a travel ban and financial sanctions for targeted individuals for a year.
For a resolution to be approved by the 15-member council, it needs at least nine “yes” votes and no veto by a permanent member. The vote on the US-drafted resolution on South Sudan sanctions was 10-0 with China, Russia, India, Kenya and Gabon abstaining.
South Sudan has repeatedly called for the arms embargo to be lifted, and the five countries that abstained expressed opposition to the sanctions.
But earlier this month, the UN panel of experts monitoring sanctions against South Sudan recommended that the Security Council extend the arms embargo because of “persistent cease-fire violations” and intensifying violence in the country’s regions.
The experts said the government’s purchase of approximately 25 new armoured personnel carriers for the police, shown in a March photograph, was a violation of the UN arms embargo.
Stressing that conditions for millions of civilians “are getting worse,” the panel said violence, floods and displacement have created “unprecedented levels of food insecurity across much of the country”.
It cited the UN World Food Program’s warning in March that South Sudan was facing its “worst hunger crisis ever,” with some 8.3 million people needing food and 1.4 million children “acutely malnourished” as of December.
China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun countered the experts and resolution’s supporters saying the world’s newest nation, which has gone through a decade of war, “has a poor and weak foundation and it needs constructive support, not pressure by sanctions, from the international community”.
He noted that the African Union and the East African regional group IGAD have long opposed “the council’s punishment of this youngest brother of Africa”. South Sudan’s problems need to be addressed through political means, stressing that in many cases “pressure by sanctions is not only ineffective but also restricts the ability of the government of South Sudan to build security capacity in protecting civilians,” he said.
Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Anna Evstigneeva said Moscow is not “trying to downplay the situation in this young country which still has to overcome many challenges.” But she said the government has made “certain progress” and it needs today “to work on forming its armed forces”.
Kenya’s deputy UN ambassador Michael Kiboino said his country abstained because the council didn’t lift the arms embargo and…
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