South Sudan

2017 South Sudan Humanitarian Needs Overview


Humanitarian needs & key figures

Over the past year, the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan has deepened and spread, affecting people in areas previously considered stable and exhausting the coping capacity of those already impacted. Three years on from the outbreak of conflict in December 2013, nearly 7.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection across the country as a result of armed conflict, inter-communal violence, economic crisis, disease outbreaks and climatic shocks.

New clashes have left one in four people uprooted. More than three million people have been forced to flee their homes since the conflict began in December 2013, including nearly 1.9 million people who have been internally displaced1 (with 50 per cent estimated to be children2 ) and more than 1.2 million who have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries, bringing the total number of South Sudanese refugees in the region to more than 1.3 million.

Civilians face violations, including widespread sexual violence. Although there is no formal death toll for the South Sudan conflict, tens of thousands of people are estimated to have been killed since December 2013. One study of 24 communities in Unity found that nearly 8,000 people had been killed or drowned fleeing fighting over a one-year period during the conflict.3 Mortality has been exacerbated by conflict, acute malnutrition and disease, with 13 out of 44 counties surveyed in 2016 having crude death rates (CDR) above the emergency threshold of 1 death per 10,000 people per day. There continue to be reports of sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, committed by all parties to the conflict.

Hunger and malnutrition have reached historic levels. At the height of the lean season in July 2016, some 4.8 million people – more than one in every three people in South Sudan – were estimated to be severely food insecure. This number is expected to rise as high as five million in 2017. The food security situation is at the most compromised level since the crisis commenced in 2013- the combination of conflict, economic crisis and lack of adequate levels of agricultural production have eroded vulnerable households ability to cope. More than one million children under age 5 are estimated to be acutely malnourished, including more than 273,600 who are severely malnourished.

The economic crisis has escalated, leaving the urban poor increasingly desperate and destitute. The South Sudanese Pound (SSP) rapidly depreciated in 2016, reaching an all-time low of more than 100 SSP to 1 US Dollar in November 2016. The cost of living has risen exponentially, with the South Sudan annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) increasing by 835.7 per cent from October 2015 to October 2016, the highest year-on-year inflation rate in the world. Insecurity along main roads has diminished trade and trader’s ability to access hard currency for imports. In September 2016, 51 per cent of households in Juba were food insecure, more than double the 2015 level of 23 per cent, and this number is expected to continue to increase.

Susceptibility to disease has risen after three years of conflict and crisis. More than 2 million cases of malaria were reported from January to November 2016; an increase compared to the same period in 2015. The cholera outbreak in 2016 caused more cases and spread to more locations than in 2015. There are rising cases of the deadly tropical disease kala-azar and more than twice the number of counties have been affected by measles outbreaks in 2016 (13) compared to 2015 (5).

The children of the world’s youngest nation are at risk. More than 1.17 million children aged 3 to 18 years old have lost access to education due to conflict and displacement since December 2013. About 31 per cent of schools open have suffered at least one or more attacks by armed actors. This has overwhelmingly been the case in Greater Upper Nile, specifically in urban areas. Over 17,000 children are estimated to have been recruited by armed actors in South Sudan. Over 9,000 children were registered as unaccompanied, separated or missing at the time of writing. Anecdotal evidence indicates that child marriage is increasing due to conflict and economic pressures. An estimated one million children are believed to be in psychological distress.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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