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Why IGAD is missing an opportunity for peace in South Sudan.

South Sudan’s war has come right up to the edges of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base with gun battles and shelling in Bentiu shaking the air. As has been demonstrated time and again in this nine-month war, just because civilians have fled to a UN base does not mean they are safe.

Moreover, regional leaders tasked with ending the war have just missed an opportunity when the heads-of-state summit of East Africa’s Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the body mediating South Sudan’s peace negotiations, ended on 25 August without tough action.

South Sudan’s government and opposition agreed, yet again, to respect a ceasefire agreement that has been broken many times before and, yet again, agreed to talk peace. Such paper promises made in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa have not made South Sudanese civilians any safer before, and what little hope there may have been in this latest promise quickly eroded when a UN helicopter was shot down just south of Bentiu the very next day.

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