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East African Countries to Send Troops to South Sudan

East African countries have agreed to send troops to South Sudan, to help enforce a shaky cease-fire deal between government and rebel forces.

The announcement came Thursday at a summit of the East African regional bloc IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.

Reporter Marthe van der Wolf, who is covering the summit for VOA, says the troops will protect IGAD cease-fire monitors and could also be used to protect oil fields. She says they are not expected to protect civilians.

Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda will contribute soldiers to the force, whose size was not announced.

Seyoum Mesfin, chief mediator of peace talks between South Sudan's warring factions, said the troops should begin arriving by mid-April.

IGAD is mediating peace talks between South Sudan's government and the rebels. The sides signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in January but clashes have continued.

The fighting and ethnic violence sparked by the conflict have killed thousands and caused nearly a million people to flee their homes.

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