South Sudan

Humanitarian Action for Children 2021 - South Sudan (2021 Revision 1, June 2021)



  • South Sudan is facing multiple humanitarian crises. More than 8.3 million people, including 4.5 million children, need multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance.

  • In 2021, UNICEF and partners will aim to reach more than 3.7 million children (82 per cent of those in need) affected by multiple shocks, including conflict, multiple and often concurrent disease outbreaks – including coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – drought and flooding with services designed to improve their physical and mental health, nutrition, safety and learning.

  • UNICEF requires US$180.1 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 (33 per cent); education to support access to safe learning (26 per cent); and WASH to prevent waterborne diseases such as cholera (20 per cent).


While there has been relative stability for children in South Sudan since the formation of the Transitional Government in February 2020, the situation remains fragile and the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance is the higher than ever. Many areas of the country are still affected by localized violence, armed conflict, cyclical drought and perennial flooding. The cumulative effects of years of prolonged conflict, chronic vulnerabilities and weak essential services have left 8.3 million people, including 4.5 million children, in need of humanitarian assistance. The state fiscal situation is weak, with very little expenditure on social services, including salaries for social and health sectors. Nearly four million people are displaced, including 1.5 million who are internally displaced and 2.2 million refugees in neighbouring countries.

The country is now facing its highest levels of food insecurity and malnutrition since attaining independence 10 years ago. The latest food security analysis estimates that the current lean season which runs until July is the worst ever in terms of severity, with 108,000 at the brink of suffering from famine. A total of 7.7 million people are expected to need food assistance, including 7.2 million acutely food insecure South Sudanese in rural areas, 130,000 people in urban areas and 314,000 refugees in South Sudan. The nutrition situation is critical, with 57 (72 per cent) counties projected to be in the IPC Acute Malnutrition (AMN) Phase 3 and above during the period April to July 2021. The prevalence of global acute malnutrition remains high at 12.6 per cent. An estimated 1.4 million children under 5 years are acutely malnourished, including 313,391 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

Over 6 million people are at risk of disease outbreaks, including cholera. There is a risk of annual measles outbreaks due to low immunization coverage. 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. Critical social services such as primary health care and education are facing significant disruptions due to inter-communal violence, flooding, operational interference, and lack of state funding. Limited coverage of health and WASH services, combined with high levels of food insecurity, have given rise to preventable diseases.