South Sudan

2019 South Sudan Humanitarian Needs Overview



The recently revitalized peace process promises to offer new opportunities in 2019 for South Sudan’s women, men and children. However, the cumulative effects of years of conflict, violence and destroyed livelihoods have left more than 7 million people or about two thirds of the population in dire need of some form of humanitarian assistance and protection in 2019 – the same proportion as in 2018. While the situation is no longer escalating at a rapid speed, the country remains in the grip of a serious humanitarian crisis.

1 A legacy of conflict, violence and abuse

Five years of the most recent conflict has forced nearly 4.2 million people to flee their homes in search of safety, nearly 2 million of them within and 2.2 million outside the country.
While the intensity of conflict may have reduced recently, and clashes contained to certain regions, vulnerable people will continue to experience the impacts of the conflict through 2019. United Nations reports indicate that all parties to the conflict have repeatedly violated international humanitarian law and perpetrated serious human rights abuses, including gang rape, abductions, sexual slavery of women and girls, and recruitment of children, both girls and boys. People affected by the conflict, including the more than 300,000 refugees in South Sudan, repeatedly identify security among their primary needs.

2 Insufficient basic services

The conflict and associated economic decline have eroded the Government’s ability to provide consistent basic services to its people. Currently, one primary health centre serves an average of 50,000 people.
Only 40 per cent of nutrition treatment centres have access to safe water, a gap that puts more vulnerable people, particularly women, boys and girls, at risk of malnutrition and disease. Only about one in five childbirths involves a skilled health care worker and the maternal mortality ratio is estimated at 789 per 100,000 live births.
Every third school has been damaged, destroyed, occupied or closed since 2013, and more than 70 per cent of children who should be attending classes are not receiving an education.

3 Destroyed livelihoods and eroded coping capacity

Years of conflict, displacement and underdevelopment have limited people’s livelihood opportunities, marginalized women’s formal employment opportunities, and weakened families’ ability to cope with the protracted crisis and sudden shocks, like the death of a wage earner or loss of cattle.
The livelihoods of 80 per cent of people are based on agricultural and pastoralist activities.
Farmers, who are mostly women, and their families have been displaced from their fertile lands. Annual cereal production has reduced by 25 per cent from 2014 to 2017, leaving a nearly 500,000 metric tons deficit for 2018. Over 80 per cent of the population lives below the absolute poverty line and half the population will be severely food insecure between January and March 2019, similar to the same period in 2018. The number of people in IPC Phase 5 is expected to nearly double from the same period in 2018.

4 Limited access to assistance and protection

About 1.5 million people live in areas facing high levels of access constraints – places where armed hostilities, violence against aid workers and assets, and other access impediments render humanitarian activities severely restricted, or in some cases impossible. In 2018, violence against humanitarian personnel and assets consistently accounted for over half of all reported incidents. More than 500 aid workers were relocated due to insecurity, disrupting the provision of life-saving assistance and protection services to people in need for prolonged periods.
Communities’ inability to access lifesaving support risks pushing women, men and children deeper into crisis. Many of the hardest to reach areas in Unity, Upper Nile and Western Bahr el Ghazal have alarming rates of food insecurity, malnutrition, and sexual and gender-based violence.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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