South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar reportedly signed a framework peace agreement in Khartoum, Sudan on Tuesday, June 26, after a series of talks mediated by Ethiopian, Ugandan, and Sudanese officials. The terms of the agreement include a permanent ceasefire and the deployment of African Union troops to safeguard the deal. Both sides agreed to allow the Sudanese government to secure South Sudan's oil fields in coordination with the South Sudanese government. Machar will also resume his position as vice president, which he has held on two previous occasions; however, both terms ended as violence spiraled out of control in 2013 and again in 2016. It is unclear whether this compromise will lead to any lasting peace in South Sudan as talks continue between Kiir and Machar.
Also on Tuesday, a United Nations peacekeeper was shot and killed in an ambush targeting an aid convoy traveling between Yei and Lasu (Central Equatoria province) in western South Sudan. The attack was reportedly led by unknown gunmen who retreated after the peacekeepers returned fire. It was the third attack on peacekeepers in the past month, with two attacks previously reported in Unity state.
South Sudan has been wracked by years of political, interethnic, and intercommunal violence - exacerbated by border and oil revenue disputes with Sudan. Following the 2011 signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that gave the country its independence from Sudan, the predominantly north-south conflict has given way to a pattern of internal violence. Since December 2013, the country has experienced an intermittent civil war waged between the government of President Salva Kiir and the SPLA on one side, and former Vice President Riek Machar and the SPLA-IO on the other. A 2015 peace agreement has failed to prevent outbreaks of ethnic and political violence and the conflict has continued despite international support for state-building and peacekeeping - including the 12,000-strong United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), deployed since 2011.
Many Western governments advise against nonessential travel to South Sudan. Certain regions should be particularly avoided, including the states of Unity and Upper Nile, the north of Warrap state, parts of Eastern and Central Equatoria states, and areas along the border with the Central African Republic, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. If travel is necessary, ensure that proper security protocols are in place.
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