As Talks Begin, UN Tells South Sudan It 'Can Still Be Saved'
'Gravely concerned' over atrocities, violence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 2, 2014 12:30 AM CST
A United Nations armored vehicle passes displaced people walking towards a UN camp in Malakal, South Sudan.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
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(Newser) – As negotiators from South Sudan's two warring sides arrived in Ethiopia for peace talks, a UN official urged both forces to bring the world's newest country "back from the brink." Fighting continued in Bor, a gateway city to the capital of Juba, the center of ethnically based violence stemming from the political rivalry between President Salva Kiir and ousted Vice President Riek Machar, now the leader of the rebels. Machar claims to have seized control of Bor and has threatened to send his forces on to Juba.

The fighting in Bor has displaced about 60,000 people, making it the latest humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. The UN says fighting has killed at least 1,000 people and it is "gravely concerned" about mounting evidence of gross violations of international human rights law, including the extra-judicial killings of civilians and captured soldiers. "The country is at a fork in the road, but it can still be saved from further major escalation of violence," a UN spokeswoman says.