Ceasefire appears to be holding in South Sudan

July 19, 2016

After four days of heavy fighting between combating forces in South Sudan's capital, Juba, which has left more than 270 people dead, a ceasefire appears to be holding.

 

President Salva Kiir and his rival Vice President Riek Machar both announced the ceasefire which came into affect on Monday at 15:00 GMT.

 

Clashes between the two troops loyal to the men had begun to threaten a recent peace deal, with both leaders under immense diplomatic pressure to end the violence.

 

Since South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011, their history has been riddled by civil war.

 

It seems that this recent round of fighting began as a result of a disagreement at a checkpoint between rival soldiers which led to a shootout on Thursday night in which five soldiers died, quickly escalating into serious fighting by Friday.

 

Tensions have been high since April, when Vice President Machar returned to Juba under a peace deal following a two-year civil war. He took a 1,300-strong protection force with him with the intention  of starting joint patrols with forces loyal to President Kiir. But a lack of trust between the two sides means the patrols have not begun.

 

According to the United Nations, around 42,000 people had fled from their homes during the fighting, with 7,000 of them taking refuge in their compound.

 

The UN has called for an immediate arms embargo, as well as attack helicopters to strengthen its 13,000 strong peacekeeping force.

 

So far two Chinese UN peacekeepers and one South Sudanese UN worker were among those killed in the fighting.

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said: "This senseless and inexcusable violence - undertaken by those who yet again are putting self-interest above the well-being of their country and people - puts at risk everything the South Sudanese people have aspired to over the past five years."

 

Evacuations are underway with Uganda, Kenya and the US preparing to evacuate their citizens from South Sudan. The Australian Government has urged all Australians in Juba to remain is a safe location and avoid movement on the streets saying that “The Australian Government’s ability to provide consular services in South Sudan is extremely limited.”

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