The United Nations Security Council has approved the deployment of an additional 4,000-strong peacekeeping force in South Sudan after recent fighting threatened to send the country back to all-out civil war.

The members of the council backed the US-drafted resolution on Friday with 11 votes and four abstentions.

Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said that as early as of next week, an "assessment team" would head to South Sudan to start the arrangement for the creation of the "protection force".  

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Members of the force will be drawn from regional countries in Africa, and it will be tasked to protect the airport and promote "safe and free movement" in and out of the capital.

The South Sudanese government headed by President Salva Kiir has opposed the deployment of more UN forces in the country, saying it "seriously undermines" its sovereignty

There are already 12,000 peacekeeping troops, which have been in the country since it gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

South Sudan fighting drives surge of refugees to Uganda

But the force has been criticised for failing to stop the latest bloodshed, or fully protect civilians during the fighting.

An estimated 70,000 South Sudanese have already fled the country to Uganda since deadly fighting began in July.

The fighting in the capital, Juba, last month raised fears of a renewed civil war after an August 2015 peace deal and worsened a humanitarian crisis.

Riek Machar, the rebel leader and former first vice president, fled during the fighting and said he would return only when regional peacekeepers secured the capital.

Source: Al Jazeera