I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Haysom and the Permanent Representative of Gabon, Ambassador Biang, for their presentations. I welcome the presence of the Chargée d'Affaires of South Sudan.
In a year's time, we hope to see the first elections in South Sudan. We are entering the final year of the transition with significant delays, despite some progress. There is an urgent need for political leaders to demonstrate greater political will and transparency. According to the Secretary-General's report, a majority of the population would like to see elections without further delay.
I would like to reiterate three priorities in this regard:
First, to urgently make progress on the implementation of key political milestones. We welcome the ten measures identified by the Trilateral Taskforce to make the electoral process more credible. We also welcome the fact that in recent days the parties have reached a common understanding on some of these issues. We particularly welcome the commitment to a free civic and political space and to a representation of women, who are heavily involved in the transition process, of at least 35%. During their visit to Juba and Wau over the last few days, the members of the Informal Group of Experts on Women, Peace and Security, co-chaired by Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates, heard of intimidations of politically active women. This is not conducive to the organisation of elections.
Second, to establish a safe and secure environment. This is an essential condition for the success of the transition and the holding of free and fair elections. We remain deeply concerned about the continuing violence at the sub-national level. The recent attacks in Unity have shown once again that civilians are the most affected by this violence. By issuing a press statement on the attacks in Warrap and the Abyei administrative area this week, the Council has sent a pre-emptive signal in this regard. Despite the delays, we welcome the recent deployment of the necessary unified forces in Upper Nile. Full implementation of the transitional security arrangements is essential. We welcome the support of UNMISS in this regard, and encourage the mission to take into account the recommendations of the independent assessment of the protection of civilians mandate.
Third, to improve the grave humanitarian situation. We are deeply concerned about the growing humanitarian and protection needs. According to the UN Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator, who visited South Sudan last week, nearly 60% of the South Sudanese population is suffering from hunger. With the continuing violence at sub-national level, the negative impacts of climate change and the consequences of the ongoing conflict in Sudan, the situation is likely to get worse. This will have an impact on how the population can participate in the final months of the transition. To alleviate the suffering, Switzerland has increased its humanitarian aid by over 17 million dollars in recent months. However, we continue to be deeply concerned that South Sudan remains one of the most dangerous countries for humanitarian workers. Attacks on humanitarian personnel and assets must cease immediately, and safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access must be guaranteed.
Time is running out. We echo the concerns expressed by the Special Representative about the risks to the transition if the necessary decisions are not taken and implemented as a matter of urgency. Switzerland reiterates its full support to UNMISS and its continued commitment within this Council to support the Government and the people of South Sudan.
I thank you.