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South Sudan: A 'horrifying human rights disaster,' top UN human rights official says

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 file photo, a man unloads food assistance supplied by the International Red Cross which arrived in the morning by truck to help the thousands who fled the recent fighting between government and rebel forces in Bor by boat across the White Nile, in the town of Awerial, South Sudan. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 strongly condemned the commandeering of humanitarian vehicles and the theft of food and other desperately needed aid by government and anti-government forces in violence-torn South Sudan. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 file photo, a man unloads food assistance supplied by the International Red Cross which arrived in the morning by truck to help the thousands who fled the recent fighting between government and rebel forces in Bor by boat across the White Nile, in the town of Awerial, South Sudan. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 strongly condemned the commandeering of humanitarian vehicles and the theft of food and other desperately needed aid by government and anti-government forces in violence-torn South Sudan. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)  (The Associated Press)

The U.N.'s top human rights official says the conflict in South Sudan has turned into a horrifying human rights disaster with mass atrocities committed by both sides.

U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic said Friday that he has received reports of mass killings. He said there is also evidence of sexual violence and the use of children in the conflict. Simonovic said thousands of people have been killed in a month of fighting.

South Sudan's conflict broke out Dec. 15 as a political dispute but quickly broke down along ethnic lines between followers of the president and the former vice president.

Simonovic, who described seeing dead bodies lying on the ground during his trip, said those behind the atrocities should be held accountable.