Juba — Rebels fighting the South Sudan government are receiving weapons and ammunition from Sudan and Eritrea, says a report by Small Arms Survey; an independent research project in Geneva.
The group’s evidence also suggests close ties between South Sudan’s army and the Sudanese rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, that is fighting the Khartoum government in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile border states.
Jonah Leff, the Small Arms Survey’s Sudan Human Security Baseline Assessment Projector Coordinator, told Sudan Tribune that the support of rebels on both sides is “a symptom of the greater issue, which is oil and land”.
Sudan and South Sudan has persistently accused each other of supporting rebels seeking to unseat the governments in Khartoum and Juba. Each side routinely dismissed the allegations.
A dispute over border areas and oil has led to further deterioration of relations between the two countries. Last week the South Sudanese army (SPLA) claimed to have overrun Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in oil-producing town of Heglig.
The SPLA has asserted that recent SAF border attacks have included South Sudanese rebel groups.
“Extreme elements within both governments do not want to make any concessions, and will do what they can to disrupt the peace process and negotiations over oil. Support for rebels is one way of doing this,” Leff added.
The April 2012 Small Armed Survey report lists Sudan and Eritrea as the “likely source” of arms to militia groups in South Sudan.
Evidence from interviews conducted and rifles seized from rebels of South Sudan Democratic Movement (SSDM) and South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states matched those in the hands of SAF, the survey claims.
The SSLA denies claims it is supported by Khartoum.
“In addition to Khartoum, Asmara [Eritrea] is emerging as a likely source [...] for weapons supplied to Southern rebels,” the report claims.
Ammunition confiscated by the SPLA from the late George Athor’s SSDM forces in Jonglei were identical to rounds were also found with Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) reportedly supplied by Eritrea.
Last month, Small Arms Survey reported that the SPLA supplied rifles to the Nuer White Army in Jonglei state. This was denied by SPLA spokesperson Philip Aguer.