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The Council voted unanimously to dispatch an additional 5,500 UN soldiers and some 700 additional police to reinforce 7,000 soldiers already deployed as part of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which also includes some 2,000 experts, observers and aid workers.
“[The situation] is of mounting urgency,” Ban had written to the UNSC on Monday.
The additional forces, he said, would “ensure the protection of civilians and the protection of United Nations personnel and assets.”
The UN says that over 100,000 people have fled the fighting; some 45,000 have sought refuge at UN camps.
The security situation in South Sudan began to deteriorate on December 15 when President Salva Kir accused his former Vice-President Riek Machar of masterminding a coup attempt. Some reports said that members of the Presidential Guard loyal to Machar engaged in a gun battle with security forces supporting Kir.
Hostilities erupted when other supporters of the two men, from rival tribes, clashed in the capital Juba.
The UN and human rights organisations say hundreds have been killed in the conflict between militias and tens of thousands. But a senior UN official said on Tuesday the death toll could be in the thousands.
His statement came as UN forces reported finding two mass graves in two different sites in South Sudan; one was in the region of fierce fighting over the weekend.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on all sides to protect civilians caught in the fighting amid fears that the fighting between the ethnically different tribes of Dinka and Lou Nuer could escalate further.
Pillay said in a statement: “Mass extrajudicial killings, the targeting of individuals on the basis of their ethnicity and arbitrary detentions have been documented in recent days. We have discovered a mass grave in Bentiu, in Unity State, and there are reportedly at least two other mass graves in Juba.”
“There is a palpable fear among civilians of both Dinka and Nuer backgrounds that they will be killed on the basis of their ethnicity,” Pillay added.