A senior United Nations official in South Sudan has called for restraint and underlined the need to ensure the protection of civilians as fresh fighting has erupted between Government and opposition forces in a number of locations across the country.
According to a news release issued by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), clashes between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition groups have taken place in Raga (western South Sudan), Waat (Jonglei state, eastern South Sudan), and in Wunkur and Tonga towns (northern, Upper Nile state).
"[The warring parties] must once and for all silence the guns, return to dialogue, reconcile their differences and bring the peace the South Sudanese people want and deserve," said Moustapha Soumaré, the acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the country.
"During this holy celebration of Easter, which for many symbolises reconciliation and the rebirth of hope, I call on all parties to prove their commitment to peace," he added.
The escalation of violence follows recent fighting in Pajok (near the border with Uganda) that caused some 6,000 to flee across the border as well as in Wau that displaced many civilians and also claimed the lives of three workers contracted by the UN World Food Programme (WFP).
According to UNMISS, the Protection of Civilians site adjacent to its base in Wau has received some 13,500 newly displaced persons, taking the total number of the displaced sheltering there to 38,746. Around 3,000 others are also reportedly seeking refuge at other non-UN compounds.
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The Mission also noted that it continues to push for access to areas affected by the conflict and that, despite challenges in reaching some parts of the country, it has successfully deployed a number of peacekeeping patrols to deter violence and protect civilians.
It also continues to monitor the human rights situation in line with its mandate.