South Sudan

ACT Alliance Alert: South Sudan: Complex Humanitarian Crisis, 2 March 2021

Situation Report
Originally published
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Protracted conflict and negative impact of floods, COVID-19 and desert locusts has contributed to an extended and complex humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. Since the year 2021 began, people in South Sudan continued to suffer with high humanitarian needs. On February 19-2021, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (CHRSS) released a new report documenting an alarming increase in localized violence. According to the report, “vast swathes of South Sudan have witnessed a massive escalation in violence perpetrated by organized tribal militias”. During 2020 more than 2,000 civilians were killed in local conflicts, which were being “weaponized and turbocharged by external actors acting in their own economic or political interests” according to David Shearer, Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan. The CHRSS claimed the level of localized violence may be higher than during the country’s civil war, which began in December 2013. Though there is commendable peace process now, but the transitional government has been unable to address the underlying causes of inter-ethnic conflict, including competition over power and resources. Delays in establishing state governments and appointing governors has created a leadership vacuum, which is being exploited to manipulate long-standing hostilities between rival ethnic communities. Intensified with natural disasters, massive floods have left hundreds of thousands of people displaced in states of Jonglei, Unity, Upper Nile, Bahr el Gazal, and parts of Greater Equatoria leaving the affected population with little or no means to survive. The flooding crisis alone has severely affected an estimated 800,000 people, devastating homes, livestock, crops, functional markets, schools, health facilities, waterpoints and sanitation infrastructure. (NCA-GPAA Floods Assessment Report, November 2020). COVID-19 localized and community transmissions are rapidly increasing with 7,098 confirmed cases and 87 deaths (WHO,2021/2/25). This has caused significant social-economic impact evidently seen by escalating food prices combined with negative income shocks, GBV and increase traumatic mental health cases and psychosocial-(MHPSS) problems amongst the communities in South Sudan. The desert locust-considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world invaded communities in parts of Central and Eastern Equatoria states and massively and fed on large quantities of any kind of green vegetation, including crops and pasture for livestock which has impacted negatively on food security and livelihood. This situation finds the country in an already fragile state where high levels of acute food insecurity has been driven by conflict, insecurity, flooding, population displacements, declined crop production, pests & diseases, economic crisis, limited access to basic services and secondary effects of COVID-19 especially to livelihoods. The complex humanitarian situation reveals that over 8.3 million about one- third of the total population in South Sudan are estimated to need humanitarian assistance in 2021 according to the findings reflected in the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO,2021). This is an increase of 800’000 people from 7.5 million people in need in 2020 (OCHA, 2021). Current figures indicate 1.62 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), 125’000 IDPs in protection of civilians’ sites (PoCs), 2.19 million South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries and 301’000 refugees in South Sudan. This internal and external displacement caused by disaster complexities has perpetrated alarming humanitarian needs as 5.8 million people are already acutely food insecure, 483’000 malnourished women and 1.4 million malnourished children (IPC, Dec 2020-Mar 2021). In December 2019, UNHCR reported at least that 236,764 people have so returned following the signing of the revitalized peace agreement in October 2018. Funding is urgently needed to scale up response to reach communities affected by the combination of Conflict, floods, COVID-19, and desert locust tremors.