JUBA, May 15 (Xinhua) -- At least 70 percent of South Sudanese are feeling safe living in the country after the warring parties signed the revitalized peace agreement last year to end more than five years of conflict, a UN survey launched on Wednesday reveals.
The survey by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says only 28 percent of the 2,300 people interviewed between December 2018 and January 2019 said they felt unsafe.
David Shearer, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of UNMISS said the perception survey was conducted by an international consultancy firm and local staff through face-to-face interviews with people in villages, towns and civilian protection sites in 10 areas where UNMISS has its bases.
"This demonstrates to us that most people do feel the security situation is continuing to improve significantly, particularly following the signing of (revitalized) peace agreement," Shearer told journalists in Juba.
The survey notes that 79 percent of the people interviewed reported having a family member dead and also having a family member displaced as result of the armed conflict that broke out in December 2013.
"Of those who had experienced displacement, nearly one quarter said more than 15 of their family members had been forced to leave their homes," said UNMISS.
The survey also reveals that 89 percent of people are optimistic of the lasting peace this year.
"To us, this is very significant result because it demonstrates what we are picking up in our discussions with communities on the ground. There is palpable optimism and hope among people right across the country that peace is possible," said Shearer.
"I hope that this kind of result will motivate the parties to work even harder to implement the agreement because they can see clearly that their people have a keen desire for peace and support their efforts," he added.
According to the study, 72 percent said they felt much safer due to UNMISS presence, 67 percent approved the work of the peacekeeping force, 16 percent said there was no difference while 7 percent thought it was worse or much worse.
It also discloses that 59 percent said the government was primarily responsible for their safety, 27 percent said it was UNMISS and 8 percent said it was up to individuals to look after their own safety.
Shearer said that these results are encouraging as UNMISS will continue to measure its performance and make improvements where necessary in the years ahead.
"All too often, the news that we hear in South Sudan is negative and that's not surprising given what the country has been through. But I think this survey offers some hope that we are on the right path towards peace and that, most importantly the people of this country believe it can be achieved," said Shearer.
President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed the revitalized peace deal in September 2018 mediated by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Ethiopia.
The 2015 peace agreement collapsed after outbreak of renewed fighting in Juba in July 2016, which forced Machar to flee into exile.
The parties recently agreed to extend the pre-transitional period for another six months before forming the much-awaited transitional unity government that should have been up and running by May 12.