• UN peacekeeping chief urges implementation of S. Sudan ceasefire deal

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    UNITED NATIONS: The UN peacekeeping chief on Monday underscored the importance of adhering to the ceasefire agreement between the South Sudanese government and opposition forces as violence between rival army factions in the world’s newest country has killed thousands of people and displaced nearly a million others.

    UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Herve Ladsous, made the remarks during his visit to Juba, capital of South Sudan, where he met with President Salva Kiir, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said at a daily news briefing.

    “He stressed that priority must be given to implementing the cessation of hostilities agreement that was signed on 23 January. He also conveyed the UN’s full support for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-led mediation process,” Nesirky said.

    Under the mediation of the regional bloc IGAD, the South Sudanese government led by President Kiir and rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar agreed on Jan. 23 to end the deadly fighting.

    In a meeting with UN staff in Juba, Ladsous commended the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for its resilience throughout the crisis and for sharing the mission’s facilities with thousands of civilians at risk.

    He also visited the UNMISS base in Tomping, where the United Nations is protecting more than 25,000 civilians.

    Ladsous said that he saw thousands of people alive was a clear indicator that the mission had made the right decision in opening its gates to civilians, even though living conditions were difficult.

    The conflict in South Sudan broke out on Dec. 15 when Kiir’s government claimed that soldiers loyal to Machar, who was dismissed last July, staged an attempted coup. Eleven pro-rebel leaders were detained by the government for their alleged role in the coup attempt.

    Overall, the conflict has displaced more than 702,000 people across the country and sent another 123,000 fleeing to neighboring countries. Overall, some 75,000 civilians are sheltering at various UN bases across the country.

    Following the outbreak of fighting, the Security Council authorized a major reinforcement of UNMISS, almost doubling its unformed personnel to nearly 14,000 and ordering in more essential equipment and helicopters, but it is taking time to get all the new forces and materiel deployed on the ground, the UN said. PNA

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