Middle East

UN: Still time to avoid 'worst-case scenario' in South Sudan

  • Ambassador Kuol Alor Kuol Arop, representative of South Sudan, speaks during the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in South Sudan, at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

    Ambassador Kuol Alor Kuol Arop, representative of South Sudan, speaks during the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in South Sudan, at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Yasmin Sooka, head of a team of U.N. human rights investigators, speaks during the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in South Sudan, at the United Nations Human Rights Council at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

    Yasmin Sooka, head of a team of U.N. human rights investigators, speaks during the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in South Sudan, at the United Nations Human Rights Council at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein arrives for the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in South Sudan at the United Nations Human Rights Council at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein arrives for the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in South Sudan at the United Nations Human Rights Council at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The United Nations Human Rights Council is meeting to discuss the situation in South Sudan, with the world body's top human rights official saying there's still time for action to avoid a "worst-case scenario" in the five-year-old country.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, urged the council Wednesday to call on South Sudan's leaders to refrain from incitement to violence and ethnic hatred. The United States requested the meeting.

Tens of thousands have been killed in fighting in South Sudan, and more than a million people have fled the country.

Zeid said that when local leaders intervened recently to halt hate speech, threats of violence decreased, so "there may still be some space for consequential action to pull the country back from a worst-case scenario."