By Nii Akrofi Smart-Abbey with Conflictarm.com
A UK-based campaign group, Conflict Armament Research (CAR) has said in a new report that Sudan has been able to bypass international sanctions and arms embargoes to import weapons.
The report which comes days after heavy fighting broke out in Darfur, indicated that heavy weaponry were mainly imported from China and the Russian Federation.
The Sudanese government, CAR said, continues to “benefit from relatively unrestricted access to military imports” in spite of a European Union (EU) arms embargo imposed since 1994 and a United Nations arms embargo on the Sudanese state of Darfur since 2005.
The military imports the report said have been supplemented by the acquisition of non-military or dual-purpose equipment from East Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
The campaign group said it had evidence that Sudan had distributed military material to armed groups in several other African countries.
“CAR’s findings also suggest that Sudan continues to supply arms to state and non-state armed groups across the East African region and the western Sahel.
“CAR and its investigative partners have documented newly manufactured Sudanese military material captured from non-state armed groups in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, Mali and Niger.”
Whereas Sudan produces some ammunition which it sells commercially, the campaign group noted that large ammunition from China, appears to have repackaged or their shipping information have been masked in order to conceal its provenance.
This it believes is a way for the Sudanese government to disguise its retransfer of Chines-supplied ammunition to non-state groups beyond its borders – a move which would constitute a clear violation of its end-user agreement, specifically the non-retransfer clauses, with the Chinese government.
The organization which said it obtained its findings based on material documented in the field, said the “newness and condition of some of this material, in addition to testimonies and contextual evidence provided to CAR, suggest that Sudan has supplied it directly to non-state groups – at least during the period 2014-15”.
Sudan according to the report, has invested in its own domestic military production and assembly capabilities which have expanded significantly over the last decade.
The findings of the report, CAR said, “illustrate inadequate due-diligence measures resulting in exporters continuing to export dual-purpose material to Sudan despite evidence that it is rapidly diverted and converted to military”.
In another CAR report published in April, the group said weapons captured in the Blue Nile region earlier this year indicated that Sudan may have violated UN sanctions on arms sales with Iran as the weapons included an Iranian howitzer artillery gun and tanks refurbished by an Iranian government affiliated company, the Sanam Industrial Group.
At the time, it was unclear if any violation had taken place since the date of acquisition of the weapons was unknown.
A UN panel of experts on Libya also published a report in March this year in which it noted that Sudan had continued to violate an arms embargo on Libya by transferring material to Libya by road and air.
Sudan has for over half a decade waged a war of attrition against the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) in SOuth Kordofan’s isolated Nuba mountains region and adjacent Blue Nile state.
The conflict was characterized by intense seasonal fighting and aerial bombardment campaigns until June 2016 when the Sudanese government announced a unilateral ceasefire.