March 13, 2014 (Hague) — The Dutch Minister of Defense has confirmed that cluster bombs were used in fighting in South Sudan, after denials by the country’s national authorities.
Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert stated in the parliament of the Netherlands in The Hague that the UN is now investigating the ownership of the cluster bombs.
The cluster bombs were dropped from an airplane along the road between Juba and Bor, though this was denied by the South Sudanese government.
During battles for control of the Bor area, forces of the government, opposition and Ugandan army were involved, as well as armed civilians, but only the South Sudanese government and Ugandan forces were equipped with aircraft.
Cluster bombs are a type of weapon that explode in the air, sending dozens or hundreds of submunitions or ‘bomblets’ over a wide area. These often fail to explode on initial impact, leaving duds that act like landmines and explode when handled.
South Sudan is not a party to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans cluster munitions, while the Republic of Uganda signed the convention on December 3, 2008, but has yet to ratify it.
Support for UNMISS
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Norwegian government rejected claims by the South Sudanese government that the UN was supporting opposition fighters by supplying them with weapons.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende released a statement on Wednesday describing the “unacceptable” accusations as “unreasonable and groundless”.
“The UN represents the entire international community in its efforts to support South Sudan on the path towards peace, reconciliation and economic and social development,” the minister said.
“Both before and since South Sudan became independent in 2011, the UN has been the most important international partner for the people of the country,” the Norwegian government stated. “The recent accusations against the UN are therefore unacceptable, and are undermining the relationship of trust between the authorities and the international community.”
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