Europe

EU warns of possible new sanctions in South Sudan

  • European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini, center left, is greeted by Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, center right, during a round table meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. EU foreign ministers hold talks Monday on the conflict in Syria, relations with Africa and migration. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

    European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini, center left, is greeted by Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, center right, during a round table meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. EU foreign ministers hold talks Monday on the conflict in Syria, relations with Africa and migration. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)  (The Associated Press)

  • French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, left, speaks with Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders during a round table meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. EU foreign ministers hold talks Monday on the conflict in Syria, relations with Africa and migration. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

    French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, left, speaks with Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders during a round table meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. EU foreign ministers hold talks Monday on the conflict in Syria, relations with Africa and migration. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)  (The Associated Press)

  • Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, left, speaks with Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn during a round table meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. EU foreign ministers hold talks Monday on the conflict in Syria, relations with Africa and migration. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

    Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, left, speaks with Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn during a round table meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. EU foreign ministers hold talks Monday on the conflict in Syria, relations with Africa and migration. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)  (The Associated Press)

The European Union says it stands ready to impose fresh sanctions against anyone who incites ethnic hatred, obstructs the peace process or stops U.N agencies from doing their work in South Sudan.

EU foreign ministers said in a statement Monday that they are "profoundly disturbed" by intensifying conflict five years after South Sudan gained independence.

They called on the transitional government to protect civilians, and for all parties to respect international law and bring an end to human rights violations.

The U.N. recently warned that South Sudan is at risk of genocide and that ethnic cleansing is being carried out in several parts of the country.

Tens of thousands have been killed and more than 2 million people displaced by the civil war.