The United Nations Security Council has extended the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in South Sudan until August 12.
The 15-member council voted unanimously to extend the mission while they consider imposing an arms embargo and sending in more troops following a warning from the United States of reports of renewed violence in the south of the country.
United States Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power said,
We have just received very disturbing reports of significant violence in the Equatorias in South Sudan and all of us need to be on alert this weekend because events could spiral rapidly out of control yet again
“We have to get this right. But it also must be done with great urgency. Let us not be fooled into believing that time is on our side. It is not. Events in recent weeks have demonstrated how quickly violence can reignite and how devastating are the human consequences when it does. I want to stress this also for council members here today. We have just received very disturbing reports of significant violence in the Equatorias in South Sudan and all of us need to be on alert this weekend because events could spiral rapidly out of control yet again.”
The about 12,000 member UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan is mandated to use lethal force to protect civilians but it has been unable to fully carry out that mandate.
At least 272 people were killed in heavy fighting which erupted in Juba for several days, earlier in July, between troops loyal to Kiir and those backing Machar.
Machar, who was reappointed vice president this year, left Juba after the fighting and said he would only return after international troops are deployed as a buffer force to separate his forces from Kiir’s.
Kiir has now replaced Machar with General Deng Gai, a former chief opposition negotiator who broke ranks with Machar.