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NEW YORK, December 19, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President GĂ©rard Araud ( France):

The members of the Security Council expressed serious concern over the fighting that began on 15 December and is ongoing in the capital city of Juba and other areas in South Sudan that has reportedly resulted in large numbers of casualties, as well as over the risk of targeted violence against certain communities.

The members of the Security Council urged all parties to immediately cease hostilities, exercise restraint and refrain from violence and other actions that could exacerbate tensions. They also underscored the vital importance of protection of all civilians, regardless of their communities of origin, and called for all authorities to respect the rule of law and human rights.

The members of the Security Council called for the Government of South Sudan to engage in dialogue with its opponents and to resolve differences peacefully in order to prevent any spread of the current violence.

The members of the Security Council commended the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as the Mission seeks to provide shelter, protection and humanitarian assistance to the affected people of South Sudan and to open the dialogue between key leaders to bring a resolution to this crisis.

The members of the Security Council will monitor the situation closely and consider further action as appropriate.