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UN Official: S. Sudan Facing 'Humanitarian Catastrophe'

Children walk through mud in an internally displaced persons camp inside the United Nations base in Malakal, South Sudan, July 23, 2014.

A top United Nations official says South Sudan is on the brink of a "humanitarian catastrophe and a protracted internal conflict," following more than seven months of inter-ethnic fighting.

Edmond Mulet told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that South Sudan is experiencing a "man-made crisis," and that those responsible for it have been slow in resolving it.

Representatives from the 15-member Council plan to visit South Sudan next week.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in South Sudan since the conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his political rival, Riek Machar, descended into fierce fighting and inter-ethnic violence late last year.

Mulet told the Security Council more than one million people have been displaced by the violence and more than 400,000 have fled the country. He also said about four million people are at risk of going hungry due to alarming food shortages, and that 50,000 children could die this year from malnutrition.

On Monday, representatives from South Sudan's government and the rebel opposition restarted peace talks, with both sides saying they are committed to forging a deal to end the fighting.

Past cease-fire agreements between the two sides mediated by the East African group IGAD have been violated soon after being signed.

The two sides have blamed each other for the collapse of previous cease-fire deals and the continuation of fighting has centered on South Sudan's Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states.