JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — The head of an international group monitoring South Sudan's peace process said Tuesday that people are starving in the country's Western Equatoria state as the government and rebels delay forming a transitional government to end the country's civil war.
A ceasefire monitoring team that recently visited Western Equatoria state found starving people in the Mundri area, which has been a hotspot of violence in recent months, said Festus Mogae, a former president of Botswana.
"I am staggered that things have been allowed to get this bad," Mogae told a meeting of government and rebel representatives in the capital, Juba. "I plead with you to avoid ruin: Form the transitional government of national unity without further delay, restore stability, repair the damage that has been done before it is too late."
Mogae said he is disappointed that President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar missed a deadline last month to form the new government as called for in an August peace agreement.
Implementation of the agreement has stalled because Kiir ordered the creation of 28 states from the existing 10, undermining a power-sharing provision in the deal which gave Machar's side control of two of the original states. Mogae told an African Union summit over the weekend that the government is responsible for the impasse.
Western Equatoria state was relatively peaceful during most of South Sudan's civil war, which was concentrated in the country's northeast, but the area has seen an increase in violence since August.
Thousands of people have fled the latest fighting between government forces and various rebel militia, including to neighboring countries, according to the U.N.