UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- UN Security Council on Friday renewed its call on all parties in South Sudan to commence a broader dialogue to end the violence in the strife-torn country, where fighting erupted between government and opposition forces nearly a month ago.
In a press statement, the council members underlined their demand for President Salva Kiir, former Vice President Riek Machar and other political leaders to "demonstrate leadership by immediately agreeing to a cessation of hostilities and commencing a broader dialogue."
They urged Machar to move forward and agree to a cessation of hostilities without precondition, and requested the government of the world's youngest country, in particular President Kiir, to release all political leaders currently detained in order to create an environment conducive to a successful dialogue.
The council members also demanded an immediate end to all human rights violations and abuses and stressed that those responsible will be held accountable, according to the statement.
The members of the 15-nation body reiterated their calls on all parties for cessation of violence and hostilities, the protection of civilians, including foreign nationals and UN personnel, provision of humanitarian access, and security of economic infrastructure, including oil installations and the safety of the employees.
"The members of the Security Council also strongly discouraged external intervention that could exacerbate the military and political tensions," said the statement.
Fighting erupted in South Sudan, which only gained independence in 2011 after seceding from Sudan, on Dec. 15 when Kiir said soldiers loyal to Machar, dismissed last July, reportedly launched an attempted coup.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirmed that at least 231,000 people have fled their homes since the fighting began, with nearly 43,000 South Sudanese seeking refuge in neighboring countries, mainly Uganda.
Speaking after a Security Council briefing on Thursday, Under- Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous said that the death toll will "be very substantially in excess of the 1,000 figures that we know for sure."
The Council briefings came as UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos announced 15-million-U.S.-dollar allocation from the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund.