The UN Security Council on Tuesday approved a recommendation to almost double the UN peacekeeping forces in conflict-torn South Sudan to better protect civilians from violence.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-nation body " endorses the recommendation made by the Secretary-General to temporarily increase the overall force levels of UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) to support its protection of civilians and provision of humanitarian assistance."
The resolution reinforces the strength of UNMISS to 12,500 troops and 1,323 police from its previous mandate of over 6,800 troops and police, as thousands of civilians in the world's youngest country were seeking refuge at UN bases.
Deadly clashes have escalated in South Sudan since the weekend, following what President Salva Kiir's government claimed was an attempted coup by soldiers loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, who was dismissed in July.
Two Indian peacekeepers and at least 20 civilians who sought refuge inside a UNMISS base were killed during an attack in Akobo town, Jonglei State, on Thursday.
On Saturday, UNMISS relocated all remaining civilian staff from its compound in the Jonglei state capital of Bor to Juba.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday sent a letter to the Security Council to request a boost to "the protection capacity of UNMISS with additional troops, police and logistical assets."
In the Tuesday resolution, the Security Council called for "an immediate cessation of hostilities and the immediate opening of a dialogue" in South Sudan, demanding that all parties in the country cooperate fully with UNMISS as it implements its mandate, in particular the protection of civilians.
The Security Council "stresses that efforts to undermine UNMISS ' ability to implement its mandate and attacks on United Nations personnel will not be tolerated," said the resolution.
The most powerful body of UN also requested that the secretary- general to initially report back in 15 days on the situation in South Sudan, which won independence from Sudan in July 2011, and then every 30 days.
It "authorizes the secretary-general to take the necessary steps to facilitate inter-mission cooperation ... and authorizes appropriate transfer of troops, force enablers, and multipliers from other missions," the resolution said.
In addition, the Security Council urged the concerned UN member states to facilitate the deployment and redeployment to and from UNMISS and encouraged all member states to respond to UN efforts to mobilize troops and resources.
Deep differences had emerged between two groups within the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement after Kiir removed Machar from office in July.
Kiir said on Monday he was ready to begin talks with his rival "without preconditions" to end the current crisis in the country.