U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday slammed the warring sides in South Sudan for failing to take peace talks seriously and for missing the recent deadline to set up a transitional government.
Kerry also condemned the recent killings of at least six humanitarian workers in Maban County, in Upper Nile state, and said he was concerned by reports of targeted ethnic killings in South Sudan.
"Deadlines keep passing and innocent people keep dying. The log-rolling and delay has to end," Kerry said in a statement.
Kerry noted that the government and the opposition led by Riek Machar failed to meet a deadline they agreed to on June 10, when they said they would take no more than 60 days to form a transitional government of national unity.
"Regional leaders helped broker the agreement, but despite the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediation team’s best efforts, neither party engaged in peace talks seriously," he said.
"Along with my Troika colleagues from Norway and the United Kingdom, we condemn these failures," Kerry said, calling the lack of progress towards peace in South Sudan "an outrage and an insult to the people of South Sudan."
More than 1.5 million people have been displaced by nearly eight months of fighting in South Sudan, and the country faces what Kerry called "the worst food security crisis in the world with a real risk of famine."
The killings last week of six humanitarian workers in Upper Nile state "further undermine the enormous humanitarian response needed to support the 3.9 million South Sudanese who are in desperate need of life-saving food assistance and who continue to live in fear of violence," Kerry said.
The U.S. Secretary of State called on IGAD and the African Union to take "appropriate action to bring peace to the people of South Sudan," saying that after eight months of conflict and nearly as many months of stumbling peace talks, "We’re well past the point where enough is enough."