South Sudan’s government lead by Salva Kiir and opposition forces led by Riek Machar agreed to end hostitilities by signing an agreement.
The two groups have been fighting for some time, and each has blamed the other for starting the conflict. Recently, the United Nations said it believed casualties were “much higher” than its earlier December 26 estimate of over 1,000. The International Crisis Group estimated more than 10,000 people may have been killed.
According to media reports, under the terms of the agreement the soldiers of both the national army and the opposition must stop fighting.
The agreement will pave the way to resolve the crisis that started a month ago in South Sudan.
The agreement includes four points:
First, they agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities. Second, both agree to stop media campaigns and propaganda statements against each other. Third, they agree to allow humanitarian access to assist victims of the conflict. Finally, they agree on the withdrawal of foreign troops from South Sudan including the Ugandan army.
US welcomes the signing of cessation of hostilities
In a press statement, Deputy Department Spokesperson Marie Harf said the United States welcomes the signing of a cessation of hostilities between the Government of South Sudan and opposition forces.
Though it is a long process, Ms. Harf noted that the agreement is a critical first step toward building a lasting peace in South Sudan.
The US government called on all of South Sudan’s leaders to honor their commitments to the people of South Sudan by working quickly and earnestly toward an inclusive and comprehensive political dialogue.
Ms. Harf highlighted that it is also vital to ensure that assistance can reach the hundreds of thousands of people who have been affected by this conflict.
The US called on all parties to facilitate the immediate and unfettered provision of humanitarian assistance to all those in need in South Sudan, regardless of where they are located.
US Addresses The Crisis In South Sudan
The United States has engaged in an all-out diplomatic effort to help bring an end to the fighting, with engagement by Secretary Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Special Envoy Booth, Ambassador Page and other high-ranking past and present officials with President Kiir and former Vice President Machar as well as with the heads of state and foreign ministers in neighboring countries and around the world.
The US government has:
galvanized support to end hostilities and open a broader dialogue between the two sides; tracked reports of atrocities and called for accountability; sought to secure the release of political detainees now being held in Juba; supported the critical efforts of Sudan’s neighbors to end this crisis; and taken significant steps to increase the capacity of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to carry out its mandate of civilian protection.
The US government proposed and the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution nearly doubling the authorized troop ceiling for UNMISS.
Now, the US is actively encouraging member states to provide additional troops and police units to the UN mission, including through the transfer of contingents from other missions in the region where they can be spared.
In addition, the US has just committed an additional $50 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to bolster the response to pressing new needs arising from the crisis.
Civil War Budding In South SudanA series of clashes triggered ethnic violence in the African country. In recent weeks, hundreds have been killed and nearly 200,000 have been displaced.
Last month, the clashes erupted after President Salva Kiir accused former Vice President Riek Machar of attempting a coup. Mr Machar denied the accusation.
Peace negotiations are underway between representatives of Kiir and Machar in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
500 Killed In Recent Violence In Bor
Last month, South Sudan’s military lost control of a key town in the country’s east, to army mutineers.
The army lost Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, to a military faction associated with former Vice President Riek Machar, who denied attempting a coup. Riek Machar claimed it is President Salva Kiir who is inciting ethnic tensions.
Jonglei state has been plagued with ethnic tension between the Nuer and Murle tribes in recent years with recurrent attacks and massacres of civilians.
Reports coming out of the area say the clashes between the country’s army and army mutineers have killed some 500 people, mainly soldiers.