United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon expressed serious concern regarding the crisis in South Sudan. He described the situation in the country as a “political crisis that needs to be dealt with through political dialogue. “There is a risk of this violence spreading to other states, and we have already seen some signs of this,” added Mr. Ban.

The Secretary General contacted the key political leaders in the region and encouraged them to end the crisis. According to Mr. Ban, he spoke with President Salva Kiir of South Sudan to do everything possible to stop the violence and ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law. Mr. Ban said, “I also impressed [upon] him the need to resume dialogue with the political opposition.” In addition, he welcomed reports that President Kiir is willing to enter into such negotiations.

Mr. Ban also urged the government to cooperate fully with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which protects nearly 20,000 civilians in its two compounds in Juba. The UNMISS is also investigating allegations regarding human rights abuses over the past several days.

According to Mr. Ban, he also reached out to President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda about the situation “because of his role as a regional leader.”

The UN estimated that almost 500 people were killed since the fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and soldiers loyal to former vice president Riek Machar, who was fired in July.

The UNMISS observed a heavy fighting on Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, and thousands of people sought refuge in its compound on the outskirts of the city.

“We call on the Government of South Sudan to do its utmost to end any continuing violence, make sure that all civilians feel safe all over the city, regardless of their communal background.  This will also permit civilians in our camps to return home,” said Hilde Johnson, the Secretary-General’s special representative and head of UNMISS.

The UN Security Council is encouraging all parties in South Sudan to cease hostilities and exercise restraint immediately to prevent the further spread of violence.

Meanwhile, United States Secretary of State John Kerry said the government of South Sudan must must respect the rule of law and its people. According to him, “Political differences need to be resolved by peaceful and democratic means and those have been hard fought for. The government should respect the rule of law and the people of South Sudan should be able to realize their full potential in peace.”