Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (centre) with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (left) and South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar after the two South Sudanese arch-rivals agreed in Khartoum on June 27, 2018, to a "permanent" ceasefire. The deal is breaking up, the Catholic Church has warned. PHOTO | ASHRAF SHAZLY | AFP


South Sudan's Catholic church has warned hat a six-month-old deal to quell the country's brutal war was falling apart and that all sides were gearing for fresh fighting.

"While the level of the conflict has reduced, the cessation of hostilities agreement is not holding," Archbishop Paulino Lukudu said on Thursday in a powerful statement endorsed by bishops after talks in the capital Juba.

"All the parties are involved either in active fighting or preparations for war."

The war began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

A conflict erupted that split the country along ethnic lines. Nearly 400,000 people are estimated to have died and millions have fled their homes, many of them pushed to the brink of starvation.