South Sudanese leaders, including President Salva Kirr and rebel leader Riek Machar, have been the major beneficiaries of the ongoing civil war in their country, according to a report released by American investigative unit the Sentry.
The report accused President Kirr, his estranged deputy Machar, and top military generals of taking advantage of the ongoing civil war to enrich themselves.
“They’re stealing the money to fund their militias to attack and kill one another. We can either take action or we can spend the next decade mopping up the mess,” U.S. actor and commissioner of the report George Clooney said in a statement Monday.
The report, entitled “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay,” was compiled by former forensic financial investigators hired by the Sentry, which is cofounded by Clooney and John Prendergast, an African humanitarian.
Speaking to journalists in the United States, Clooney said it was everyone’s obligation to put an end to runaway corruption.
He and U.S. actor Don Cheadle, a member of Not On Our Watch and a human rights activist, gave evidence of the leaders’ complicity in looting and the destruction of South Sudan and suggested possible measures that could help stop corruption in the world’s youngest nation.
“You can’t shame war criminals – we’ve learned that over the years. But you can shame banks and people. And we have the moral obligation and ability to act,” Clooney added.
The report contends that top government officials, banks, and real estate companies are accumulating fortunes while driving mass atrocities in South Sudan.
“Some have been involved in questionable business deals while others have apparently received large payments from corporations doing business in South Sudan,” the report reveals.
Since December 2013, South Sudan has been grappling with a deadly civil war, which broke out after fallout between President Kirr and the then-Vice President Machar.
Hundreds of people, including civilians, have died since then, with women and children being raped and millions being displaced from their homes.
The main catalyst of the ongoing civil war in South Sudan has been the competition between President Kirr and rebel leader Machar to control state assets and the country’s plentiful natural resources, such as oil.
Both leaders have reportedly exploited decades-long tribal animosity between the country’s two main ethnic groups — the Dinka and Nuer – in order to fuel the civil war.