More than 10,000 civilians have sought refuge at two United Nations compounds in South Sudan’s capital Juba, the organisation said on Tuesday, as clashes continued in the city for a second day.
"The mission is taking every possible step to ensure their safety while they are staying on UNMISS premises", the special representative of the UN secretary-general, Hilde Johnson, said in a statement.
"It is paramount that the current violence does not assume ethnic dimensions," she emphasised.
Johnson also called on the South Sudan’s leaders, as well as all political factions and members of different communities, to refrain from any action that could fuel ethnic tensions or contribute to further violence. She also highlighted the need for "discipline, command and control in the security forces", amid reports of violent house-to-house search operations in Juba.
Fighting between rival troops broke out in Juba late on Sunday, and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has accused forces loyal to his political rival, former vice president Riek Machar, of an attempted coup. Kiir dismissed Machar along with his entire cabinet in July.
Machar leads a dissident group within the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) party and had been seen as the main challenger to Kiir. The rivals hail from different ethnic groups and fought on different sides during Sudan's civil war.
South Sudan gained its independence in 2011 following a referendum in which participants voted overwhelmingly to split from the north and form a new nation.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2013-12-17