FILE - Soldiers from the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).
FILE - Soldiers from the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

JUBA - A top United Nations official visiting South Sudan this week called on the nation's warring parties to engage in a meaningful political process to end the fighting.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the new U.N. under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, said the continuing violence is causing the South Sudanese people to suffer needlessly.

Lacroix arrived in Juba on Tuesday to assess security and meet with South Sudan's leaders, including President Salva Kiir. Lacroix called a Thursday news conference in Juba to say both warring parties appear unwilling to end the violence.

FILE - Jean-Pierre Lacroix, United Nations' under-
FILE - Jean-Pierre Lacroix, United Nations' under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, left, is received by David Shearer, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), upon arriving in Juba, South Sudan, Aug. 1, 2017.

"In spite of the unilateral cease-fire which was decided by the authorities, fighting is continuing in different areas of the country. And it is a matter of concern because the continuation of fighting seems an obstacle in the political track and it is also a matter of concern because this fighting obviously has a very serious impact on [the] population," Lacroix said.

He said the fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians from their homes, worsening the humanitarian situation across the country.

"The U.N. as a whole and the agencies and those that work with them are doing their best to help as many people as possible under difficult, sometimes dangerous situations," Lacroix added.

It is Lacroix's second visit to Juba. The U.N. peacekeeping chief met with Kiir, First Vice President Taban Deng Gai, and other senior officials to press them to restore peace and stability in South Sudan, revitalize the 2015 peace agreement, and deploy the Regional Protection Force.

Lacroix said 150 peacekeepers from Bangladesh have been deployed in recent months as part of the regional protection force aimed at protecting major installations across the country, including Juba International Airport.

"Things are now accelerating, which is a good thing. A number of units now have been deployed in Juba," Lacroix said, adding that more units will be deployed in the coming months, including four battalions from Rwanda.

Lacroix also visited Malakal, capital of the former Upper Nile State, which is one of several areas that has seen stepped-up fighting over the past year.