Children displaced by fighting in Bor rest upon arriving in Mingkaman refugee camp. File picture: Kate Holt/UNICEF/Handout

Geneva - Oil revenues are funding ongoing violence and human rights violations in South Sudan, UN human rights investigators said on Wednesday, arguing that the desire to control oil production has become the main driver of the conflict.

The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said in a report that last year's government anti-rebel offensive in Southern Unity state was really aimed at an oil field in the region.

The offensive had resulted in killings and forced displacement of civilians.

"Human rights have become a casualty in oil-producing areas of the country," the commissioners wrote ahead of a UN Human Rights Council session starting next week in Geneva.

They pointed to the major role that the Chinese National Petroleum Company, the Indian Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, and Malaysia's Petronas play in operating South Sudan's oil fields.

The US Commerce Department has imposed trade restrictions on Sudanese joint ventures in which these companies are involved.

The joint ventures "have been found, as a consequence of their business activities, to have caused or contributed to the ongoing armed conflict and the violations," the UN Commission noted.

The report also criticized that South Sudan's state-owned oil company Nilepet has funded military operations.

In 2013, a split between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar triggered a civil war that has led to tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of 2.5 million people.

Warring parties signed a peace deal in September 2018, which currently holds even though the ceasefire has already been broken by various groups. 

dpa

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