Overview of the crisis
There are humanitarian needs across South Sudan as a result of multiple and interlocking threats, including armed conflict and inter-communal violence, economic decline, disease, and climactic shocks.
Despite the signing of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan in August 2015, violence continues to affect civilians in all ten states. In the second half of 2015, fighting between armed actors erupted in new locations, including Western and Central Equatoria. In addition to the conflict, communities are struggling with inter-communal violence, including as a result of cattle raiding. In Lakes State, there is an average of 60 deaths per month. This is compounded by the absence of justice and the rule of law to respond.
The population is uprooted. More than 2.3 million people – one in every five people in South Sudan - have been forced to flee their homes since the conflict began, including 1.66 million internally displaced people (with 53.4 per cent estimated to be children) and nearly 644,900 refugees in neighbouring countries. Some 185,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) have sought refuge in UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites, while around 90 per cent of IDPs are on the run or sheltering outside PoC sites. Due to the fluidity of displacement, it is difficult to determine the number of IDP returnees. However, humanitarian partners estimate that some 300,000 will be in need of assistance in 2016. Thousands of homes have been ruined during the fighting and many people have been displaced multiple times because of repeated attacks. Thousands of people living with HIV have seen their life-sustaining treatment interrupted without possibility of resumption due to displacement.
Another generation is at risk. Nearly one in every three schools in South Sudan has been destroyed, damaged, occupied or closed, impacting on the education of more than 900,000 children, including some 350,000 who have been forced out of school by the conflict. More than 686,200 children under age 5 are estimated to be acutely malnourished, including more than 231,300 who are severely malnourished. Between 15,000 to 16,000 children are estimated to be recruited by armed actors in South Sudan. Over 10,000 children have been registered as unaccompanied, separated or missing. An adolescent girl in South Sudan is three times more likely to die in childbirth than complete primary school. An estimated one million children are believed to be in psychosocial distress.
Thousands have lost their lives.The International Crisis Group estimated that between 50,000 to 100,000 people across South Sudan had been killed in the period December 2013 to November 2014 This number increased as fighting continued 2015. In Leer, Mayendit and Koch counties of Unity State alone, an estimated 1,000 civilians were killed, 1,300 women and girls were raped and 1,600 women and children were abducted from April to September 2015. Mortality has been exacerbated by acute malnutrition and disease, including an unprecedented malaria outbreak and a cholera outbreak in 2015 for the second year in a row.
Hunger and malnutrition are widespread. 3.9 million people –nearly one in every three people in SouthSudan – were severely food insecure and 3.6 million were considered to be ‘stressed’, in September 2015. An estimated 30,000 people were facing catastrophic food insecurity (IPC Level 5) in Unity State, leading to starvation, death, and destitution. Livelihoods have been decimated by the conflict and economic decline, with livestock looted, killed and disease-prone and crops destroyed or planting delayed due to violence, displacement and unfavourable weather. Nearly one in every three pregnant and lactating women is malnourished.
Infrastructure losses are extensive. South Sudan is one of the most logistically challenging places in the world and has one of the most underdeveloped communications technology infrastructures. The severely under developed and under maintained roads makes 60 per cent of the country inaccessible by road during the rainy season. Prior to the conflict, healthcare was extremely difficult to access in South Sudan, with an estimated 0.15 doctors per 10,000 patients and 0.2 midwives/nurses per 10,000 people. As of September 2015, some 55 per cent of the health facilities in Unity State, Upper Nile State and Jonglei were no longer functioning. The rising cost of living and impact of the conflict have undermined people’s ability to access safe water, including due to the destruction of water points. 110 million square metres of land is contaminated by landmines and explosive remnants of war.
South Sudan’s economic crisis has been driven by the rapidly depreciating value of the South Sudanese Pound (SSP), shortages of hard currency, global declines in oil prices, and significant dependence on imports. The South Sudan annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 91.3 per cent from September 2014 to September 20154 . The informal exchange rate of SSP against the US dollar reached an all-time low of 18 SSP to 1 US Dollar in October 2015 – compared to an official rate of 2.9 SSP to 1 US Dollar. The price of staple foods, such as sorghum, maize and beans, are at record highs (up to 150% compared to average). The decline in oil price has crippled the Government’s social services sector and negatively affected more than 40 percent of the population. Since December 2013, an additional one million people have been pushed below the poverty line.
Due to instability in neighbouring countries, the refugee population in South Sudan has increased. South Sudan is hosting 265,700 refugees from Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia and the Central African Republic (CAR). Fighting in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, has caused refugees to continue to arrive in Pariang, Unity State and Maban, Upper Nile State. It is expected that the number of refugees in South Sudan will rise to 304,072 by the end of 2016. With nearly 90 per cent of refugees living in camps in Upper Nile and Unity States where the conflict has been particularly intense, tensions over scarce resources have increased between refugees and host communities.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.