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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday welcomed the appointment of a mediation team to work with Government of South Sudan and the opposition towards reaching a ceasefire to end the current conflict, which has taken a heavy toll on the world’s youngest nation.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban commended the East African regional bloc known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for its efforts and the outcome reached at its summit on 27 December.At yesterday’s meeting of heads of State and government, held in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, IGAD issued a communiqué in which it condemned the violent escalation of conflict in South Sudan.

The conflict began on 15 December when President Salva Kiir’s Government said soldiers loyal to former deputy president Riek Machar, dismissed in July, launched an attempted coup. The fighting has led to well over a thousand deaths and the displacement of at least 122,000 people, some 63,000 of whom have taken refuge in United Nations bases in the country.

South Sudanese Nationals affected by War

IGAD leaders called on all parties to refrain from steps that will inflame the conflict further particularly along ethnic and sectarian lines, and strongly condemned the “bankrupt and opportunistic ideology” of ethnic and religious sectarianism.

The regional bloc welcomed the commitment by the Government of South Sudan on immediately beginning unconditional dialogue with all stakeholders and to an immediate cessation of hostilities. It called on Mr. Machar and other parties to make similar commitments.