18th June, 2014

South Sudan has agreed to end fighting and pledged to set up a transitional government within 60 days and to resolve the conflict that"s caused a massive humanitarian crisis - resulting in thousands being killed and more than one million people fleeing their homes since December.

In a rare meeting between the South Sudanese political rivals, President Salva Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar agreed to end the fighting and set up a new government. The talk was held in Ethiopia"s capital and mediated by East Africa"s regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

"They agreed to complete the dialogue process within the coming 60 days on what, how, when and who...to the formation of a transitional government of national unity," Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told media on Tuesday, 10th June.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development has threatened sanctions if Kiir and Machar fail to abide by the agreement since previous deals to end the violence have been broken by both sides, most recently in May, causing the country to descend further into crisis.

This is the first time South Sudan's neighbours have issued such a warning, reflecting the region"s frustration.

"There has been a growing tendency to continue with the war," Desalegn said while criticising both sides for breaking the 9th May ceasefire.

The United States has already imposed sanctions on both sides of the conflict. On 12th June it condemned attacks by the Sudanese government on civilians in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states saying they have been deliberately targeting hospitals and schools.

The United Nations has warned of a famine that could effect around as many as four million people if the situation doesn"t improve.

Sudan is ranked number 11 among the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, according to the World Watch List. It"s published annually by Open Doors International, a charity that supports Christians who live under pressure because of their faith.

Incidents against Christians include faith-related killings, damaging Christian properties and forced marriage as well as arrests, deportations and raids on church offices. Muslim converts to Christianity especially suffer maltreatment.

- World Watch Monitor