IGAD teams deployed to monitor S. Sudan ceasefire

JUBA – The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East Africa trade bloc, said Friday that Monitoring and Verification Teams (MVTs) had begun operating in South Sudan to monitor the implementation of a January cessation of hostilities agreement between the country's warring camps.

"As an impartial and transparent mission, the MVT is focused on supporting the efforts of the IGAD special envoys to find a peaceful and sustainable solution to the crisis in South Sudan," IGAD said in a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Anadolu Agency.

The first team of monitors was deployed to Bor, capital of Jonglei State, on April 1, followed by similar a deployment to Bentiu in the oil-rich Unity State, according to the statement.

"The committee headquartered in Juba reports directly to the IGAD special envoys that are leading the South Sudan mediation process," the statement read.

South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked vice president, Riek Machar, of attempting to overthrow his regime.

The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the U.N. estimating that some 3.7 million people in South Sudan are now "severely food insecure" while around one million have been displaced by the violence.

Following weeks of IGAD-sponsored peace talks in Addis Ababa, the two sides signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in January. However, they have yet to reach an agreement to resolve the conflict.

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