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David Shearer said that, while important progress has been made, the peace process remains fragile and there is still much to be done, including picking up the pace on constitution-making, transitional justice, and economic reform. He said that courageous decisions need to be made to unify the armed forces of all sides.

The SRSG paid tribute to the UN agencies which have stood by South Sudan for many years and the almost 20,000 UN peacekeepers who are helping reduce violence and are bringing diverse communities together to reconcile and build peace.

“UNMISS is a stabilizing force that extends well beyond our physical presence. Our independent surveys have consistently shown that we are welcomed by nearly 80 percent of South Sudanese,” he said. “We are fully committed to securing durable peace by working closely with all political parties alongside regional and international partners.”

“As I said when I came to South Sudan, our success will be measured by the downsizing of our presence. That has started. Over the coming year, there will be a reduction of our military and police peacekeepers by around seven percent.”

UNMISS is also re-focusing its efforts to ensure it is fit-for-purpose in the evolving political and security situation.

“We are redeploying staff and resources to build the capacity of important local institutions, including the courts, the justice system and the national police, and prioritizing technical support for security sector reform as well as the election process. Protection is best done through fair and effective rule of law.”

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