Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has spoken with the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, to express his appreciation of Mr. Kiir's commitment to protecting civilians, as well as his efforts to resolve the ongoing conflict between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in Jonglei state through dialogue.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson yesterday evening after a telephone conversation with Mr. Kiir, the Secretary-General noted that the commitment to the rule of law and respect for human rights was fundamental. He also stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of the conflict.
Mr. Ban informed the President that the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is fully mobilized to assist the Government in its efforts to ease the tensions.
UNMISS deployed a battalion of troops in the town of Pibor in Jonglei last week in an attempt to protect members of the Murle community from an attack by an estimated 6,000 fighters from Lou Nuer ethnic group.
The Government also deployed a battalion of its army, the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA), inside Pibor.
Media reports at the weekend indicated that thousands of members of the Murle community who had sought refuge in Pibor had fled the town as it came under attack by the armed Lou Nuer youth.
Jonglei state has been blighted by a series of reprisal attacks between the two communities, which have a history of animosity over grazing land, water sources and cattle raids during which women and children are often abducted.
More than 1,000 people are estimated to have been killed in ethnic clashes within South Sudan this year, with Jonglei one of the states worst affected by the violence. Thousands more civilians have been displaced from their homes.