Fighting in South Sudan is due to come to an end today, after a ceasefire agreement was signed yesterday by South Sudan’s government and rebels. Over the last month, due to the fighting, more than 500,000 people were forced from their homes.

The agreement calls for an immediate end to all military operations and a freeze of forces at the “place they are in.”

“These two agreements are the ingredients to create an environment for achieving a total peace in my country,” said Taban Deng, head of the rebel delegation, AFP reports.

The parties involved also agreed not to attack civilians and to refrain from  rape, sexual abuse and torture. Supply routes for humanitarian aid are to be opened to reach displaced populations.  The agreement also sets up an unarmed group of monitors that includes members from surrounding East African nations and representatives from both the rebels and the government.

From BBC News:

Another key rebel demand was for Ugandan troops fighting alongside the government forces to be withdrawn.

The question of Uganda’s role was not raised during the signing ceremony but members of the rebel delegation said that they would bring up the issue again during the second round of talks, journalist Matthew Newsome told the BBC from Addis Ababa.

The US welcomed the deal, calling it a “critical first step” and urged both sides to “fully and swiftly implement the agreement”.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague also welcomed the ceasefire and called for an “inclusive process of national reconciliation”.

Last week, the UN human rights chief said both government soldiers and rebels had committed atrocities in South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries.

More than 70,000 civilians are seeking shelter at UN bases across South Sudan, and the UN estimates that considerably more than 1,000 have been killed.

The agreements in their entirety can be viewed on the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s site.

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