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20.4.2021 : 9:19 : +0200


Weapons tracing in Sudan and South Sudan

As accusations continue that Sudan and South Sudan are supporting one another’s rebel forces, the Small Arms Survey’s Human Security Baseline Assessment (HSBA) for Sudan and South Sudan project has published a detailed report of arms and ammunition documented with non-state actors in the two countries in 2011–13.

Following the Thread: Arms and Ammunition Tracing in Sudan and South Sudan, by Jonah Leff and Emile LeBrun, describes the results of field observations of arms and ammunition documented between April 2011 and July 2013 in conflict zones in the Greater Upper Nile region of South Sudan and in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, Sudan. Adapting tracing techniques originating in UN panel investigations of embargo violations and illicit transfers, the report provides an overview of the types of weapons observed, their country of manufacture, and patterns of holdings among different actors that are indicative of common supply sources.
Among the report’s findings:

  • Older weapons from the Eastern Bloc and Iran, as well as newer weapons from China, predominate among all armed actors in Sudan and South Sudan.
  • Sudanese security forces are the primary source of weapons to non-state armed groups in Sudan and South Sudan, through deliberate arming and battlefield capture.
  • Khartoum’s deliberate supplying of Chinese-manufactured arms and ammunition to Southern insurgents took place in apparent violation of end-user agreements concluded with the Government of China.
  • As Sudan has bolstered its arms manufacturing sector since the 1990s, Sudanese military equipment has increasingly appeared on the battlefield and in the hands of non-state armed groups.
  • Sudanese-manufactured ammunition proliferates not only in Sudan and South Sudan, but also in other conflict zones, such as in the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and Syria.
  • The Government of the Republic of South Sudan and Southern insurgent groups have supplied arms and ammunition to civilians in South Sudan.
  • Investigations reveal that South Sudanese armed groups are in possession of an increasing number of weapons whose factory marks and serial numbers have been removed, a tactic designed to undermine identification and tracing.
  • By responding to information requests, governments and private companies have shown a willingness to cooperate in the process of weapons and ammunition tracing in conflict zones.

Following the Thread, Working Paper 32 from the Small Arms Survey’s HSBA project, can be downloaded at:

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