South Sudanese continue to flock to the UN compound at Juba as fears of a resumption of fighting in the capital fester
The United Nations Security Council has approved plans to almost double the number of UN peacekeepers in South Sudan.
The troops are to be deployed as soon as possible to protect civilians from worsening violence that has pushed the world’s newest state to the verge of civil war.
The 15-member council unanimously authorised a request by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to boost the strength of the UN mission in South Sudan to 12,500 troops and 1,323 police, up from its previous mandate of 7,000 troops and 900 police.
Violence erupted in South Sudan’s capital Juba on 15 December and has spread to oil-producing regions and beyond, dividing the two-year-old land-locked country along ethnic lines. Some 45,000 civilians were seeking protection at UN bases.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 under a peace deal to end decades of war in what was Africa’s biggest state.
Mr Ban has said the additional 5,500 peacekeeping troops and 423 police would be drawn from nearby UN and African Union missions in Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Liberia,and the Sudanese regions of Darfur and Abyei.
Mr Ban told the council that five infantry battalions, three attack helicopters, three utility helicopters, one C-130 military transport aircraft and three police units were needed to bolster the UN mission in South Sudan.
The resolution adopted by the Security Council asked Mr Ban to initially report back in 15 days on the situation in South Sudan and then every 30 days.
The UN mission currently has some 6,700 troops and 670 police on the ground.