The United Nations peacekeeping operation in South Sudan is sheltering around 2,500 people who fled an outbreak of violence over the weekend in the eastern town of Pibor, a spokesperson for the world body said today.
"The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) confirms that on Sunday, fighting erupted in Pibor market between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and unidentified armed elements," UN spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey told a news briefing in New York.
The Mission is providing medical help to the injured and helped to evacuate two people from Pibor in Jonglei state to Juba, South Sudan's capital.
The spokesperson added that the Mission "is in contact with the SPLA and authorities to defuse the situation and ascertain facts."
South Sudan became independent from Sudan in July 2011. That same month, the Security Council established UNMISS with the purpose of consolidating peace and security and to help establish conditions for development.
"UNMISS remains committed to protecting civilians, but underscores that the Government of South Sudan is primarily responsible for the maintenance of security and the protection of civilians," said Mr. Del Buey.
"The Mission reiterates its call to all parties in Pibor to avoid further violence and urges the authorities to take the necessary measures to ensure security."
The fighting comes as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He called on the continent's leaders to boost efforts to lift millions out of poverty and end recurrent cycles of violence to accelerate development in the region.
In late December, UNMISS sheltered some 5,000 people seeking safety at its base in Wau amidst violence and protests that began after officials said they would move the seat of local government out of Wau.