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Newly released child soldiers in South Sudan. Photo: Steganie Glinski / AFP / Getty Images

South Sudan’s elite are using the country’s main revenue source, oil, to fund militias and atrocities in the country, according to documents obtained by The Sentry, an investigative group founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast.

Political backdrop: South Sudan has been in a state of turmoil since the ongoing civil war broke out in 2013. The violence has left famine in its wake and millions of South Sudanese internally displaced and seeking refuge in neighboring countries. A ceasefire signed in December hasn't been followed.

What’s happening, per the report: South Sudan’s state oil company, Nile Petroleum Corporation (Nilepet), has funded militias responsible for violence. More than $80 million was recorded as being paid to South Sudanese politicians, military officials, government agencies, and companies with links to politicians that paid for military transport and other logistics linked with atrocities.

  • The petroleum ministry helped provide funds, food, and fuel to militia groups in the Upper Nile state that are reportedly behind attacks on villages and civilians.
  • Nilepet made payments to a company called Golden Wings Aviation and other companies for an “army logistics operation” in June 2015. The UN has claimed this company transported weapons to Unity state during a period of violence in 2014 and 2015.
  • Other companies the records list as having received similar payments for military logistics operations include Interstate Airways, partially owned by South Sudan’s First Lady, as well as Nile Basin for Aviation, an airline owned by family members of top military and government officials.
  • Crown Auto Trade, a Toyota dealership majority-owned by a prominent South Sudanese businessman, is also reportedly listed in the records as having received $8 million in payments from Nilepet for providing vehicles and importing armored personnel carriers. The businessman, Obac William Olawo, denies transporting troops, weapons, or equipment.

There were 84 security-related transactions between March 2014 and June 2015, according to the documents The Sentry obtained.

Go deeper:

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In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.

Biden says $1,400 stimulus payments can start going out this month

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Biden said Saturday that the Senate passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package means the $1,400 direct payments for most Americans can begin going out later this month.

Driving the news: The Senate voted 50-49 Saturday to approve the sweeping legislation. The House is expected to pass the Senate's version of the bill next week before it heads to Biden's desk for his signature.