BBC news with Nick Kelly.

The United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator in South Sudan says he now believes thousands of people have been killed since fighting broke out between rebel soldiers and government forces last week. Toby Lanzer told the BBC that he's been shocked by the scale of the violence. James Copnall reports.

This latest estimate of the death toll in South Sudan underscores the seriousness of the situation. On Tuesday evening, President Salva Kiir announced his troops had retaken the strategic town of Bor. However President kiir also admitted there was new fighting in Malakal,the capital of oil-rich Upper Nile's state. There is no immediate comment from the rebels who were under the command of the former vice president Riek Machar. The fighting has exacerbated ethnic tensions. The UN says it's found mass graves in the rebel hometown Bentiu and there are allegations of mass killings on ethnic lines in Juba too.

United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to send an addition 5,500 peacekeepers to South Sudan. The decision will bring the total number of troops in the UN mission to 12,500 with the Security Council authorizing the temporary transferred soldiers from countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.

Israeli Air and Ground Forces have launched attacks on Gaza killing a young girl and wounding 10 people in response to the fatal shoot in an Israeli man near the border. Israeli Defence Forces says it targeted what it called“terror sites”.Yolande Knell reports from Bethlehem.

According to the IDF, this was the first Israeli civilian be killed near the Gaza Strips since last year's 8-day conflict with militants there. The man is said to have been carrying out maintenance work along the border when he was shot in the chest by a Palestinian sniper. In response,the Israeli Military says it had attacked targets used by militants in different parts of Gaza including a weapons manufacturing facility as been an increasing cross-border exchanges between Israel and the Palestinians in recent days.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky,the Russian former oil tycoon,an leading CRItic of President Putin has applied for a visa to Switzerland days after being released from ten years in prison. Mr.Khodorkovsky flew to Germany after he was pardoned. From Berlin here's Damien McGuinness.

Swiss government officials have confirmed that Mikhial Khodorkovsky has applied for a three-month visa for Switzerland where his twin sons go to school.A spokesperson for the former oil tycoon said he intends to move there in the new year. In his first public appearance since his release from prison,on Sunday, a surprisingly fit and healthy looking with Mr.Khodorkovsky said he would only return to Russia if he knew he will be able to leave again. In other words that he would face no further CRIminal charges. Damien McGuinness reporting.

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The Italian authorities have begun clearing a notorious migrant reception center on the island of Lampedusa. There has been a series of protests against unsanitary living conditions and alleged mistreatment at the center. It was designed as a short-stay facility for migrants passing through the tiny island but later became a long-term refugee camp. The number of arrivals there many of them from Syria and Eritrea has tripled since last year. Most of those housed on Lampedusa are now being flown to the Italian mainland.

The main opposition leader in Bangladash Begum Khaleda Zia has urged people from across the country to march to the capital Dhaka on the weekend to protest against what she desCRIbed as“farcical elections”. She has also asked supporters to form protest committees against the elections due to be held on the 5th of January. The opposition allies said it will not participate in the elections unless Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina steps down and a neutral caretaker government is installed.

And thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world have gathered in the West Bank town of Bethleham for Christmas Eve celebrations. The Church of the Nativity sits on the spot where the Bible says Jesus was born. Celebrations are also underway in Rome, from where Alan Johnston reports.

The Christmas celebrations began to unfold in the afternoon ,a life-sized nativity scene built in the center of St Peter's Square was unveiled. And later on a cold,clear night thousands of worshippers from across Italy and around the world queued before entering the Basilica, eventually with soaring ,sacred music filling in the air, Pope Francis made his entrance, he moved slowly up the central aisle,followed by a retinue of clerics,and then for the first time as a Pope,he began to preside over the rituals of Christmas in the magnificent setting ,that is St Peter's.

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