South Sudan

On 4th anniversary of South Sudan conflict, number of people in crisis grows amidst escalating violence

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Michelle Delaney | Sr. Media Adviser, Norwegian Refugee Council | Oslo | Mobile: +47 941 65 579 | Email: michelle.delaney@nrc.no

The past twelve months have seen a sharp rise in the number of people fleeing their homes and in urgent need of emergency food assistance. The conflict continues to take a heavy toll on civilians.

"Four years after the beginning of conflict in South Sudan, the situation continues to deteriorate with little hope for improvement," said Rehana Zawar, Norwegian Refugee Council's Country Director in South Sudan. "Civilians, mostly women and children, bear the brunt of the violence as conflict continues to escalate in many areas of the country. Farmers are afraid to tend their crops. Women face risk of sexual violence on a daily basis when going to collect water or firewood for cooking. Hundreds of thousands of children can no longer access school due to insecurity and economic hardship."

Six months ago, a massive humanitarian response addressed the famine that broke in the country. Today, an estimated 4.8 million people in South Sudan still face severe food insecurity - an increase of 1.1 million from last year. Risk of famine resurgence remains a real prospect in 2018 in many areas across South Sudan against the backdrop of violence and insecurity.

Recently, more than 45 people, including six aid workers, were killed in a remote village in Duk county in the east of the country. Unidentified armed men also abducted over fifty women and children, burned homes, and looted humanitarian warehouses. This single violent attack resulted in the displacement of over 2,000 civilians seeking safety in the neighboring town. The overall number of South Sudanese forced to flee their homes due to the conflict has risen in a year from 3.25 million people[1] to 4 million according to the latest OCHA official numbers.[2]

"Fighting and violence pushes increasing numbers of families to flee their homes, walking for days in search of safety, food, shelter and other basic services. Children often get separated in the process. While South Sudanese show remarkable resilience in a deteriorating context, millions depend on emergency assistance from humanitarian organizations for their survival," said Rehana Zawar.

The Norwegian Refugee Council urges all parties to the conflict to suspend hostilities, ensure protection of civilians, engage in meaningful dialogue, work towards a lasting peace and ensure safer access to vulnerable populations in need. By this time next year, we hope that South Sudan will have a real and lasting peace.

Notes to editors:

· 7 million people - more than half South Sudan's population - need humanitarian protection and assistance according to the 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview.[3]

· There are over 2.4 million South Sudanese refugees in the East Africa region, and 63 per cent of them are children.[4]

· Over 4.8 million people in South Sudan are facing severe food shortages, and the risk of a hunger catastrophe continues to threaten parts of the country.

· South Sudan ranks globally among the countries with the highest levels of conflict-induced population displacement.

NRC programmes in South Sudan:

· NRC programmes to affected families in South Sudan include food security and livelihoods, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, shelter, non-food item distributions, and support for information, counselling and legal assistance. NRC provides these relevant services through its static presences and rapid response team.

· NRC has been present in South Sudan since 2004.

Free photos:

· Royalty free photos are available for download online here (https://nrc.smugmug.com/Country-Programmes/South-Sudan/2017/14-Dec-2017 -Press-Release-photos/i-SjVWHH5).

A spokesperson is available for interviews.

Contacts: Phone number:
Michelle Delaney, Senior Media Adviser: + 47 94 16 55 79+ 47 90 56 23 29 michelle.delaney@nrc.no NRC global media hotline: info@nrc.no