Increasing censorship while 1.25 million South Sudanese face starvation

Nearly 1.25 million people are currently facing starvation in South Sudan, according to a new UN report from 6th November. Food security experts have cited hyperinflation and conflict as reasons for the critical levels of malnutrition in the country.  

United Nations sanctions monitors informed the Security Council in a confidential report, as reported by Reuters on 10th November, that President Salva Kiir’s government deliberately uses food as a weapon of war to target civilians by blocking life-saving aid to some areas. 

According to Reuters, the report claims that: 

“The government has during much of 2017 deliberately prevented life-saving food assistance from reaching some citizens. These actions amount to using food as a weapon of war with the intent to inflict suffering on civilians the government views as opponents to its agenda”.

Soon after, on 9th November President Salva Kiir ordered humanitarian aid convoys to be allowed to move freely and unimpeded around the country. This decision also follows a visit by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in October, when the U.S. threatened to pull support if serious humanitarian concerns were not addressed. 

Expression

According to news reports, the National Communication Authority, which regulates the country's media, suspended press organisations in the country, giving them up to seven days to obtain operating licenses. According to Eye Radio, at least two press organisations - Union of Journalists in South Sudan and Association for Media Development in South Sudan - received a letter from the National Communication Authority regarding the suspension, though it is still unclear how many other media organisations have been affected. This move reignited fears of increased censorship and government control over the media industry. As previously reported on the Monitor, authorities blocked access to several popular news sites and blogs in July 2017.