The government of South Sudan and rebels loyal to Riek Mashar on Thursday evening signed a long awaited cease-fire agreement in Addis Ababa ending almost 6 weeks of bitter fighting across the country.
US President Barack Obama, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council all welcomed the news, but many, both in the world’s youngest nation and abroad, are worried the killing could continue.
Since hostilities began in the capital Juba on December 15th, thousands in South Sudan have been killed and half a million civilians have been forced to flee the fighting between government troops and rebels forces composed of army defectors and the Nuer militia known as the “White Army”, named so due to the Nuer practice of smearing one’s skin with a light-coloured ash as a protection against biting insects.
What started out as a political power struggle between the two men quickly escalated into a full-scale conflict, which has at times had tribal undertones. Human rights groups have reported atrocities committed by both sides, including mass killings, summary executions, sexual violence and the recruitment of child soldiers.