United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called in message broadcast Wednesday in South Sudan for an end to the violence raking the young country, and assured the South Sudanese people that the United Nations is working to end the fighting.
“We know many of you are suffering from horrific attacks. Families are fleeing their homes. Many of you have lost loved ones and are grieving. Innocent civilians are being targeted because of their ethnicity. This is a grave violation of human rights,” Ban said in the message.
"We are strengthening the United Nations presence and will do our best to stop the violence and help you build a better future for all," he said.
The message, in which Ban also calls for South Sudan's leaders to take steps to end the fifghting, comes a day after the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to increase the troop strength of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
The Security Council voted to send another 5,500 troops and 440 police to South Sudan, nearly doubling the capacity of UNMISS from its current level of 7,000 personnel.
Two U.N. peacekeepers and hundreds of civilians have been killed as fighting that began in Juba 10 days ago, in what South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said was an attempted coup, led by his former Vice President, Riek Machar.
More than half of the estimated 80,000 people who have been displaced by fighting in South Sudan are sheltering at U.N. compounds and bases around the country.
Ban's call for peace in South Sudan follows a similar message from U.S. President Barack Obama, which was translated into the languages of the two main ethnic groups involved in the fighting, the Dinka and Nuer.
In a Christmas Eve message, Kiir called for an end to ethnic violence and urged the South Sudanese people to put the interest of their young country first.