UNITED NATIONS: The United States on Tuesday urged the divided UN Security Council to back an arms embargo and sanctions against South Sudan after the UN envoy reported that the war there is worsening.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council that UN demands for a ceasefire, access for aid workers and a return to political talks had been "totally ignored" by President Salva Kiir's government.
"I call on this council to move forward with the tools available to it, such as with further sanctions and an arms embargo, or the violence and atrocities will continue," Haley said.
"We must tell the South Sudanese government that we are not going to put up with this anymore."
France and Britain backed the US call for tougher measures, but Russia said there was no need for an arms embargo and China urged the council to be more "positive" in its approach to South Sudan.
The previous US administration failed in December to win support for an arms embargo and sanctions, with Russia, China, Japan and Egypt among eight countries that abstained in a vote on the measures.
Haley's remarks indicated that the new US administration would try again to push for an end to weapons sales and sanctions on those who undermine peace efforts.
"If you want to continue to see starvation in South Sudan, doing nothing is exactly what you need to keep doing," said the US envoy.
Helping the people of South Sudan is "not about hope", "not about wishes", she added. "That's about action, and I call on the Security Council to act."
The ambassador however did not specify whether the United States would present a resolution to impose new measures on South Sudan, now in its fourth year of war.
UN envoy David Shearer told the council that the situation was dire, with fighting in Wau, South Sudan's second city, and the Equatorias states of South Sudan.
"Virtually no part of the country is immune from conflict. Yet there has been no concerted effort by any party to adhere to a ceasefire," said Shearer.
"Instead, over the past month, we are seeing an intensification of the conflict."
After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and more than 3.5 million people displaced.
In February, South Sudan and the United Nations formally declared a famine in parts of northern Unity State affecting 100,000 people, a disaster that UN officials said was "man-made" and could have been averted.
The United Nations has 14,000 peacekeepers deployed in South Sudan, but the mission is repeatedly blocked by the government and opposition fighters.
Over 220,000 civilians are sheltering in six UN sites, under the protection of UN forces.
A UN panel of experts last month called for an arms embargo in a report that said the government was spending oil revenue on weapons as its citizens faced starvation.
China, which has sent peacekeepers to South Sudan, and Russia stressed that regional countries must play a key role in finding a solution.
Chinese Deputy Ambassador Wu Haitao said the council should send out more "positive and enthusiastic messages" to the government in Juba.
British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said there remained much resistance within the council to imposing an arms embargo. "I don't think there's a huge change of opinion" since the failed bid in December, he told reporters.