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"They are a betrayal of the trust the South Sudanese people have put in their leaders," the statement reads. "This is exactly the violence and suffering the South Sudanese people fought for decades to escape. "
The violence is only one part of a dual crisis in South Sudan, a landlocked country that gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. Because of the fighting, more than 1 million people have fled their homes, and few residents are tending crops. Lanzer cited a severe risk of famine in the months ahead.
The U.N. has been warning of mounting evidence of ethnically targeted killings as both government troops and rebel forces lose and gain territories in back-and-forth clashes. A cease-fire signed earlier this year has done little to quell violence.
Though thousands of people are cramming into the U.N. base in Bentiu, they may not even be safe there. Dujarric said four rockets were fired at the base Thursday, including two that exploded within the compound and one just outside, wounding two people who had sought refuge,.
Also last week, an angry mob attacked a U.N. base in Bor, a town in Jonglei state, killing about 60 people. In that case, ethnic Nuers sheltering inside bore the brunt of the attack. Dujarric said the U.N. mission in South Sudan reports that the situation in Bor remains "tense."
Asked how the United Nations could protect the 22,000 people at the base in Bentiu, given what happened in Bor, Dujarric said there are 500 U.N. peacekeepers in Bentiu. He reminded South Sudan's government that it has a responsibility to protect civilians and that all armed groups have a responsibility to avoid civilian casualties.
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