The Inter-governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) has condemned authorities in South Sudan for failure to end the war that has killed thousands and displaced more than two million civilians.
During a one-day meeting to revive a shaky 2015 peace agreement, IGAD's Council of Ministers called for a cessation of hostilities and end to military engagements between government troops and rebels led by Riek Machar.
"Now we are working for inclusive forum that is due in September we are going to talk with different parties from the government from the opposition from all parties which say that they are concerned with this issue, so we will continue to engage with them and finally we will prepare this inclusive forum here in Juba," Workneh Gebeyehu, Ethiopia's Foreign Minister who chaired the meeting told reporters.
The meeting is an implementation of an IGAD Heads of State summit resolution passed last month in Addis Ababa - which called on the IGAD Council of Ministers to convene a revitalization process of the South Sudan peace agreement.
A joint communiqué issued at the end of the meeting said, "IGAD regrets the continuous violence, humanitarian crisis, political and economic instability affecting the country and the livelihoods of the people in South Sudan.
The move by the IGAD came as a result of the failure of the peace agreement – since 2015 – to realize peace in South Sudan. Already several analysts and observers including the opposition party that is signatory to the peace deal and also led by rebel leader Riek Machar have pronounced the agreement as dead.
Deng Alor, South Sudan's Foreign Minister said his country would like to see IGAD continue playing its role in the implementation of the peace agreement.
"For us we want the council to continue engaging the parties and pushing them forward to implement the agreement."
Sexual violence on a 'massive scale'
Four years into South Sudan's devastating civil war, the world's youngest nation is reeling from sexual violence on a "massive scale," a new Amnesty International report said. Thousands of women, children and some men are suffering in silence, grappling with mental distress. Some now have HIV. Others were rendered impotent.
The report is based on interviews with 168 victims of sexual violence in South Sudan and in refugee camps in neighboring Uganda, home to the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis.
The UN last year reported a 60 percent increase in gender-based violence in South Sudan, with 70 percent of women in UN camps in the capital, Juba, having been raped since the start of the civil war in December 2013.
"This is premeditated sexual violence. Women have been gang-raped, sexually assaulted with sticks and mutilated with knives," said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty's regional director for East Africa. Victims are left with "debilitating and life-changing consequences," and many have been shunned by their families. Victims who have reported their attackers to authorities say they've seen little justice.