UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations extended the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, delaying decisions on giving the force a more robust mandate in the face of rising violence in the world's youngest nation.
The Security Council voted unanimously Friday to extend the mission until Aug. 12 to give diplomats more time to consider other options such as the inclusion of a regional force to beef-up the U.N. mission and a possible arms embargo.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power justified the short extension saying it would give diplomats time to draft a stronger resolution.
"We have to get this right but it also must be done with great urgency. Let us not be fooled into believing that time is on our side. It is not. Events in recent weeks have demonstrated how quickly violence can re-ignite and how devastating are the human consequences when it does," Power told the council.
The peacekeeping force currently has about 12,000 armed troops mandated to use lethal force to protect civilians but Power said the peacekeeping force, as it is currently configured, has proven itself "unable and in some cases unwilling" to fulfill their mandate.
South Sudan has been riven by ethnic violence nearly since it was founded in 2011, with civil war breaking out in 2013 between the Dinka and Nuer peoples. A peace agreement was signed in August, but fighting continues.
Hundreds of people were killed when opposing army factions clashed earlier this month in South Sudan's capital Juba. Forces backing President Salva Kiir bombed the home of former rebel leader Riek Machar, who was the country's first vice president until he fled into hiding, and U.N. compounds sheltering about 32,000 civilians were also shelled.
Power told the council that the U.S. had just received disturbing reports of new violence in South Sudan and told council members to be alert should violence spiral out of control again.