South Sudanese women and children queue for water being distributed from a UN reservoir at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Juba on December 21, 2013
The United Nations is moving “non-critical” staff from South Sudan's capital, Juba, to Entebbe in Uganda, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) announced on Sunday.
The relocation comes as fighting intensified in many parts of the world's youngest country.
UNMISS added that it is continuing to protect more than 20,000 civilians sheltering at its compounds in Juba.
The mission said it is also planning to reinforce its military presence in Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, from which all UN civilian staff have been evacuated.
Reinforcements are also being sent to Pariang in oil-rich Unity State, where rebel forces are said to be strong.
“We are not abandoning South Sudan,” said Hilde Johnson, UN special representative for South Sudan. “We are here to stay, and will carry on in our collective resolve to work with and for the people of South Sudan.”
Ms Johnson also directed a message to potential enemies of UN forces.
“To anyone who wants to threaten us, attack us or put obstacles in our way,” she said, “our message remains loud and clear: we will not be intimidated.”
BAN CALLS FOR END TO VIOLENCE
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday demanded an immediate end to violence in South Sudan, warning that tens of thousands remained vulnerable.
"I demand that all political, military and militia leaders stop hostilities and end the violence against the civilians," Ban told a news briefing in Manila as he wrapped up a two-day visit to the Philippines.
He called on South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his rival, sacked vice president Riek Machar to "find a political way out of this crisis" and order their followers to lay down arms.
Six days of fighting between followers of both sides have left at least 500 dead in the capital of the small but oil-rich African nation, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011.
Two UN peacekeepers were killed on Thursday after rebel forces attacked a UN camp where civilians had taken refuge.