UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Friday called on all parties in South Sudan to immediately stop fighting, saying that "there is no military solution to the conflict" in the world's youngest country.
The 15-nation UN body, in a press statement issued here, "strongly condemned continued fighting across South Sudan, particularly incidents in the Equatoria and Upper Nile regions of South Sudan and called on all parties to cease hostilities immediately.
"The members of the Security Council also condemned all attacks directed against civilians and expressed serious concern that, once again, there are reports of killing of civilians, sexual and gender-based violence, destruction of homes, ethnic violence, and looting of livestock and property," the statement said.
David Shearer, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), on Thursday voiced concern about the escalation of the armed conflict between the government and opposition forces in South Sudan, saying that the fighting in the west bank of the River Nile in the northern part of the country has reached "worrying proportions."
"The members of the Security Council urged the Transitional Government of National Unity to take measures to ensure that those responsible for the attacks are held accountable," the statement said, adding that "they expressed deep alarm" that more than 84,000 individuals have fled South Sudan since the beginning of January and that many continue to be displaced internally.
"The members of the Security Council stressed the primacy of the political process and that there is no military solution to the conflict," said the statement.
Meanwhile, the council members also "reminded all parties in South Sudan that implementation of the cease-fire is critical for the success of any genuine, inclusive political process, including national dialogue, and that such a process should be based on the framework provided by the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan," the statement said.
"They reiterated their call on all stakeholders to commit to full implementation of the agreement," the statement said.
With already more than 3.5 million displaced within and outside the borders of South Sudan and thousands fleeing to neighboring countries every day, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Friday appealed for an urgent peaceful resolution to the refugee crisis.
"Recent new arrivals report suffering inside South Sudan with intense fighting, kidnappings, rape, fears of armed groups and threats to life, as well as acute food shortage," William Spindler, a spokesperson for the UNHCR told reporters.
"More than 60 percent of the refugees are children, many arriving with alarming levels of malnutrition - enduring devastating impact of the brutalities of the ongoing conflict," he said.
However, the crisis, now in its fourth year, is plagued by chronic levels of underfunding.
It started in December 2013 when a political face-off between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar erupted into full conflict.
The crisis has produced one of the world's worst displacement situations with immense suffering for civilians.
Despite the August 2015 peace agreement that formally ended the war, conflict and instability have also spread to previously unaffected areas.