I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Nicholas Haysom, and the Director of Operations of OCHA, Edem Wosornu, for their presentations. I welcome the presence of the Permanent Representative of South Sudan.
We would also like to thank Ms Juan Racheal for her remarks on behalf of the Council of Churches of South Sudan, a long-standing and valuable partner of Switzerland. We are grateful for all her efforts to promote an inclusive dialogue, so useful and necessary, in the country.
South Sudan is in a critical phase of peace-building and at a decisive moment in its history, with the first general elections since independence in sight. I would like to highlight three aspects that we feel are essential in this respect:
Firstly, despite some progress, key milestones of the political transition remain to be completed. It is important that the deadlines set out in the Roadmap are met, and that the required legal frameworks and relevant bodies, such as the National Constitutional Review Commission, are put in place without delay. As the President of the National Electoral Commission pointed out last week, political will and a spirit of compromise are essential if progress is to be made. In addition, a free political and civic space, guaranteeing freedom of expression, of assembly and of the press, as Mrs Juan also said, is fundamental. We congratulate UNMISS for facilitating round tables and radio programmes to nurture this space. We encourage the Mission to continue to amplify the voices and contributions of women who are so heavily involved in the transition process.
Secondly, security and stability are essential conditions for the successful completion of the political transition and the holding of free and fair elections. We remain concerned by the persistence of violence at sub-national level, extra-judicial executions, sexual and gender-based violence, and the high number of serious violations of children's rights. It is imperative to strengthen the protection of civilians. We look forward to the assessment of the implementation of the UNMISS PoC mandate, while recalling that the primary responsibility for protecting civilians lies with the government. In addition, the work of UNMISS in strengthening the rule of law is to be commended.
We are also deeply concerned by the deterioration of the humanitarian situation and condemn the repeated attacks on humanitarian personnel and convoys. All parties must respect international humanitarian law. Safe, rapid and unhindered passage for humanitarian aid must be allowed and facilitated. As Ms Wosornu pointed out, the conflict in Sudan is putting further pressure on humanitarian needs, particularly in border areas, but also on the economy and social cohesion. International partners must do more to meet these needs. We welcome the solidarity shown by South Sudan towards those fleeing the conflict, as well as the government's efforts to support a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Sudan.
Thirdly, the link between climate change and security is clear in South Sudan. Flooding, particularly in Jonglei, Unity and Lakes states, and drought in Central Equatoria are increasing food insecurity, competition for natural resources and community tensions. The Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security has discussed these factors in depth, as well as possible preventive measures. As part of this preventive approach, Switzerland supports the Food and Agriculture Organisation, which maps migration routes and coordinates the management of natural resources in order to strengthen the resilience of communities to climate shocks. In this regard, we welcome the commitment of UNMISS to raise the issue of climate change in community dialogues, as was the case in Bor in June. This helps not only to identify preventive measures, but also to build confidence.
The clock is ticking. The coming months will require joint efforts on the part of all those involved in order to finalise the tasks in favour of lasting peace. We have heard it: the people of South Sudan aspire to a normal life, with activities ranging from basketball to professional careers. Switzerland reiterates its full support for UNMISS and its continued commitment to support the government and people of South Sudan.