A number of East African countries agreed on Thursday, March 13 to send military personnel into South Sudan by the middle of next month in order to help fortify a cease-fire between the warring rebels and the government forces, according to the main mediator between the two negotiating halves.
Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda will supply their military forces. Djibouti will also contribute a squad that will seek logistical support from the African Union as well as the U.N. Security Council. The amount of soldiers set to be deployed has yet to be announced.
“These troops are envisaged to be on the ground by no later than mid-April,” Seyoum Mesfin, chief mediator of peace talks between South Sudan’s feuding sides, told journalists in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
The Thursday announcement came at a summit of the East African regional bloc the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Addis Ababa.
Reporter Marthe van der Wolf, who is covering the summit for VOA, says the troops will protect IGAD cease-fire monitors and could also be used to protect oil fields, but she says they are not expected to protect civilians.
Mesfin said the troops should begin arriving by the middle of next month.
IGAD is mediating peace talks between South Sudan’s government and the rebels. The sides signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in January, but violent clashes have continued nonetheless.
The fighting and ethnic violence sparked by the conflict have killed thousands and have caused nearly a million people to flee their homes.