International Troops Prepare as South Sudan Violence Worsens

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Men shelter under disused mobile staircases an makeshift IDP camp at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Juba Dec. 22, 2013

Men shelter under disused mobile staircases an makeshift IDP camp at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Juba Dec. 22, 2013

The U.S. and the United Nations are preparing to make more peacekeeping troops available for the growing conflict in South Sudan, as President Salva Kiir opened the door to talks with his deposed vice president.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked the Security Council to add 5,500 soldiers to the peacekeeping mission of 7,000 already there. The U.S. has moved about 150 Marines to nearby Djibouti to assist with any additional evacuations in South Sudan, said Benjamin Benson, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command, in an e-mail today.

At an emergency meeting yesterday in New York, all 15 members of the UN Security Council showed a “positive reaction” to Ban’s request for the troops, plus 423 police personnel, said Gerard Araud, French Ambassador to the UN and president of the council this month. The council may authorize the boost today, he said.

The military manoeuvring underscored what Ban called the “mounting urgency” in South Sudan, where fighting that began Dec. 15 has killed at least 500 people. About 100,000 have been internally displaced and about 45,000 are seeking protection at UN camps in the country, Araud said.

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