United Nations Reports Discovery of Mass Graves in South Sudan

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 24 2013 5:24 PM

United Nations Beefs Up Peacekeeping Force in South Sudan

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South Sudanese shelter at a makeshift IDP camp at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Juba on December 22, 2013 where people continue to flock as fears of a resumption of fighting in the capital fester.

Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images

Update, December 25, 7:30 p.m.: The United Nations mission in South Sudan has denied a report of mass graves in the region. The report was issued by the office of a U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights. Here's the AP with the details:

The U.N. mission in South Sudan said the erroneous report was an inflation of a "skirmish" in which 15 people were killed. UNMISS said it is still deeply concerned about extrajudicial killings and is investigating those reports.
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Original story, December 24, 5:20 p.m.: The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to nearly double its peacekeeping troops in South Sudan, sending an additional 5,500 personnel.

As ethnic violence continues in the world’s newest country, many fear the outbreak of a civil war between the nation’s two largest ethnic groups, the Dinka and Nuer. The New York Times explains:

South Sudan was born in the summer of 2011 with great hope and optimism, cheered on by global powers like the United States that helped shepherd it into existence. The new nation was carved out of Sudan to end one of Africa’s longest and costliest civil wars.
But the rivalry between two of South Sudan’s political leaders, President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, along with the divisions between their ethnic groups, threatens what little cohesion holds the state together.

The vote came just hours after U.N. investigators reported the discovery of mass graves in the rebel-held city of Bentiu, which contained 34 bodies, according to officials. The U.N. is investigating two other mass killings and is uncertain who is responsible for the deaths, reports the Associated Press.

While diplomats struggle to stabilize the situation, CNN reports continued territorial clashes between Sudanese and rebel forces in various cities throughout the nation. As many as 80,000 people have fled their homes due to the violence in recent weeks and months.