In South Sudan around 16,000 people have taken shelter in UN compounds in the capital Juba after the latest between rival groups of soldiers spilled onto the streets, killing up to 500 people. Hundreds have been injured.
There have been two days of unrest there following reports of a coup against President Salva Kiir.
The government has arrested 10 politicians and is looking for its former vice president in connection with the “foiled coup”.
The rift at the heart of its political elite will dismay oil companies that had been counting on a period of relative stability after South Sudan’s independence so they could step up exploration. France’s Total has interests there.
US Secretary of State John Kerry urged a “peaceful and democratic” solution:
“Political differences need to be resolved by peaceful and democratic means, those that have been hard fought for. The government should respect the rule of law and the people of South Sudan should be able to realise their full potential in peace,” said Kerry on a visit to the typhoon-ravaged central Philippine city of Tacloban.
Tensions have been high in South Sudan since the president sacked his entire cabinet in July in an apparent power struggle.
South Sudan is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Africa despite its oil reserves, and it is plagued by ethnic fighting.