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Battle rages in South Sudan, UN wants more peacekeepers

Source: Reuters - Mon, 23 Dec 2013 23:12 PM
Author: Reuters
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Deadly clashes in South Sudan enter their second week.

The UN says hundreds have been killed and around 62,000 are homeless.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON, SAYING:

"The situation is of mounting urgency."

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is recommending an increase in peacekeepers in the region.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON, SAYING:

"I know the current situation is causing great and growing fear. You are seeing people leave the country amid increasing chaos. The United Nations will stay with you."

Over 30,000 South Sudanese have sought refuge at different United Nations compounds.

This man is one of them:

(SOUNDBITE) (English) INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSON, DENG KUOL TENY, SAYING:

"If there is a way, for example, for the United Nations to give us another place, then it's better for me to live there because there's a very bad situation in our area. I can't even go back."

South Sudan's government said on Monday it will start a major offensive to retake two strategic towns controlled by rebels, and led by former Vice President Riek Machar.

In a phone interview, Machar says he is ready for diplomacy, but President Salva Kiir must first release his detained political allies.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER SOUTH SUDAN VICE PRESIDENT, RIEK MACHAR, SAYING: (OVERLAID WITH PICTURE OF MOBILE PHONE)

"I do not want to harm the people of South Sudan."

A U.S. official says President Salva Kiir is committed to beginning talks.

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