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Fighting Resumes In South Sudan, Despite Cease-Fire Agreement

A cease-fire deal that was hailed by the international community was broken two days later by more fighting in South Sudan on Sunday.

Quoting a United Nations official, Reuters reports fighting broke out in the town of Bentiu, where both sides fired.

Reuters adds:

"President Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar met face to face on Friday to sign the ceasefire deal — the second time the two sides have promised to stop fighting after an accord in January swiftly collapsed.

"All fighting was supposed to stop 24 hours after the signing late on Friday.

"Clashes erupted in South Sudan in December after months of tensions sparked by Kiir's decision in July to sack his long time rival Machar from the post of deputy president."

As we've reported, that political spat has turned into ethnic fighting that has killed thousands.

The Associated Press reports the fighting could unleash a greater humanitarian crisis:

"Humanitarian workers hoped Friday's deal would allow residents to return home and plant crops. More than 1.3 million people have fled their homes because of the fighting, and aid experts say that if residents don't plant crops by the end of May mass hunger is likely to set in — and possibly even famine.

"The World Food Program and Save the Children on Saturday released a nutritional analysis showing that several areas in Unity state, where Bentiu is located, have food needs at 'alarming' levels, one step from famine. Up to 75 percent of the population there faces severe hunger.

"WFP says overall that 3.2 million people need food aid and that a 'hunger catastrophe' will set in if food aid is not soon delivered."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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