South Sudan's weapons concern advocates

Feb. 29, 2012 at 10:17 AM

JUBA, South Sudan, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- A disarmament campaign in South Sudan planned for March could make the security situation in the world's newest nation worse, analysts say.

South Sudan became an independent nation in July under the terms of a 2005 peace agreement. That agreement ended a bloody civil war though border conflicts, ethnic tensions and disputes over oil threaten the peace.

The United Nations took notice of a disarmament campaign planned in the restive South Sudanese state of Jonglei. The South Sudanese government plans to start collecting as many as 20,000 weapons from the hands of civilians though some analysts worry it could make the security situation worse.

Jennifer Christian, a Sudan analyst at the Enough Project, told the United Nations' humanitarian news agency IRIN that a hastened disarmament campaign might sideline some of the regional players needed to secure the peace.

"The sensible approach is to reduce the number of weapons but as part of a monitored and sustained peace process with real backing, especially from the government. Without that it's a potential humanitarian disaster," added Claire McEvoy, project manager for Sudan at Small Arms Survey.

U.N. officials have called for a force of 7,000 peacekeepers for the U.N. mission in South Sudan through 2013.

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