The crisis in South Sudan, where hundreds of people have been killed since clashes started in Juba on December 15, is of "mounting urgency," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday (December 23).
"The United Nations will investigate reports of grave human rights violations and crimes against humanity. Those responsible at the senior level will be held personally accountable and face the consequences. Even if they claim they had no knowledge of the attacks," said Ban, who is calling on regional leaders and others to boost their military support for the peacekeeping mission in Sudan.
"Now is the time for South Sudan; Their leaders, to show their people, and the world, that they are above all committed to preserving the unity of the nation that was born out of their long struggle for independence."
South Sudan's government said on Monday it will start a major offensive to retake two strategic towns controlled by rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, deepening fears that the conflict is provoking broader ethnic bloodletting.
Western powers and east African states, which want to prevent the fighting from destabilizing a fragile African region, have tried to mediate between Machar, who hails from the Nuer tribe, and President Salva Kiir, a Dinka.