Michael Majok Piel's father and other family members have been killed in the outbreak of fighting in the South Sudan.

Michael Majok Piel's father and other family members have been killed in the outbreak of fighting in the South Sudan. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

A Melbourne man whose father and two other relatives were killed in the South Sudan conflict has urged his community to unite in condemning the bloodshed.

Michael Majok Piel, a Deakin University master's student, learnt on Monday that his 62-year-old father, an uncle and brother-in-law were killed in the town of Bor at the weekend.

Other family members, including his sister and her three-month-old baby, were taken to a United Nations compound.

Bor is in the state of Jonglei, which has fallen to anti-government rebels and been the scene of summary executions, according to the UN.

Mr Piel's family are Dinka, the same ethnic group as the government, which has accused the former deputy president of attempting a coup earlier this month. The rebels belong to the Nuer ethnic group.

But Mr Piel, who completed a master's of international relations earlier this year and is now completing a master's of politics, said the fighting was about greed, not about ethnic groups.

He said Dinka and Nuer had existed together peacefully and could do so again if the leaders of South Sudan vowed to stamp out corruption. "Nuer and Dinka are one people," he said.

"We should not let people who have power confuse us so we fight against each other."

Mr Piel, 29, arrived in Melbourne seven years ago. He had lived in a refugee camp in northern Kenya for 17 years before travelling to Australia.

Despite the slaying of his family, he bears no ill-feeling towards the Nuer. He said his family had not been involved in South Sudanese politics and were targeted simply because of their ethnicity.

"I will not raise a hand to a Nuer because of this. My father was not killed by a Nuer, he was killed by a rebel."

Mr Piel said it was vital that international forces intervened in South Sudan to ensure the crisis did not become a civil war. Delaying intervention increased the possibility that politicians would be able to convince ethnic groups to take up arms against each other, he said.

He agreed that South Sudan could become "another Rwanda" if it continued to be ignored. The UN estimates that more than 1000 people have already been killed.

With AFP