South Sudan

Humanitarian Action for Children 2021 - South Sudan

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  • South Sudan is facing multiple humanitarian crises. More than 7.5 million people, including 4.1 million children, need multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance.1

  • In 2021, UNICEF and partners will aim to reach more than 3.7 million children (90 per cent of those in need) affected by multiple shocks, including conflict, disease outbreaks – including coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – drought and flooding with services designed to improve their physical and mental health, nutrition, safety and learning.

  • UNICEF requires US$197.8 million to provide a humanitarian response that meets critical basic needs in South Sudan. The largest financial requirements are in nutrition to help children survive and thrive (30 per cent); education to support access to safe learning (26 per cent); and WASH to prevent waterborne diseases such as cholera (23 per cent).


While there has been more stability for children in South Sudan since the formation of the Transitional Government in February 2020, the situation remains fragile and humanitarian needs are significant. Many areas of the country are still affected by concurrent intercommunal violence, armed conflict, cyclical drought and perennial flooding.

The cumulative effects of years of prolonged conflict, chronic vulnerabilities and weak essential services have left 7.5 million people, including 4.1 million children, in need of humanitarian assistance.6

Nearly 4 million people are displaced, including 1.5 million who are internally displaced and 2.2 million who are living as refugees in neighbouring countries.7 Critical social services such as primary health care and education are facing significant disruptions due to inter-communal violence, the COVID-19 pandemic and operational interference. As of 29 September 2020, the country has registered some 2,700 cases of COVID-19 and 49 deaths (1.8 per cent case fatality rate).8

Limited coverage of health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, combined with high levels of food insecurity, have given rise to vaccine-preventable diseases. Across the country, school closures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have left over 2 million children out of school. This is in addition to the 2.2 million children that were out of school prior to the outbreak.9

Market assessments indicate that food prices are on the rise. Some 1.6 million people, including the urban poor, are newly vulnerable due to their dependence on these markets.10 Reports reflect the increased scale and severity of acute food insecurity at the peak of the lean season in July and August, with widespread emergency levels of food insecurity.

The prevalence of global acute malnutrition remains high at 12.6 per cent.12 An estimated 1.3 million children under 5 years are malnourished, including 292,300 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).13 Over 6 million people are at risk of disease outbreaks, including cholera.14

South Sudan is also experiencing significant protection concerns and affected populations continuously express fear over persistent insecurity, threats to their safety, human rights violations and gender-based violence. Only 6.5 per cent of at-risk children have access to psychosocial support and other child protection services.15