In the first half of 2017, humanitarian needs in South Sudan continued to escalate. The crisis remained first and foremost a protection crisis. The number of people displaced rose to nearly 4 million—including 1.9 million internally displaced and more than 1.9 million refugees—following large-scale government offensives in Jonglei and Upper Nile, and insecurity in the Equatorias. The majority of those displaced were women and children. Localized famine was declared in Leer and Mayendit counties in Unity on 20 February and, although the famine was halted by a massive multi-sectoral humanitarian response, food insecurity reached unprecedented levels increasing needs during the year. At the height of the lean season, some 6 million people in South Sudan were severely food insecure, including 50,000 facing catastrophic food insecurity in Leer, Mayendit and Koch in Unity and Ayod in Jonglei and a further 1.7 million in Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 4 (Emergency). The cholera outbreak which began in June 2016 continued through the dry season, becoming the most widespread and deadly outbreak of the disease since South Sudan’s independence. All of these developments heightened the risk of gender-based violence, with women and girls forced to travel farther to access fuel, food and clean water.
The operating environment in South Sudan remained challenging. Fifteen aid workers were killed from January to June 2017, including six killed in an ambush on the Juba-Pibor road in March; the highest number killed in a single incident since the conflict began in December 2013. Conflict and insecurity forced the relocation of more than 250 aid workers in the first six months of the year, cutting access to aid for tens of thousands of civilians. Denials of access were recorded in multiple locations from January to June, with recurrent challenges experienced when endeavouring to reach areas outside of Wau town (Western Bahr El Ghazal), the Liwolo camps in Kajo-Keji (Central Equatoria), and areas south of Mundri (Western Equatoria).
Yet, despite the challenges, humanitarian organizations were able to reach more than 3.8 million people by the end of June 2017. In line with the 2017 Strategic Objectives and Response Strategy outlined in the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), aid agencies implemented a flexible, adaptive and coordinated response, utilizing a combination of static presence, mobile response modalities, and the delivery of survival kits to reach people in dire need across the country. Multi-sectoral collaboration increased, and the Centrality of Protection was reiterated across the response. See more on the 2017 HRP Strategic Objectives and Response Strategy: http://bit.ly/2vL6d8A
In July 2017, a light review of the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) was undertaken to reassess priorities and take stock of the changes and challenges during the first half of the year. Given the global strain on humanitarian financing, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) agreed to keep the appeal at $1.6 billion, with $744.1 million required for humanitarian action in the second half of 2017. Within this overall envelope, several clusters re-prioritized their areas of focus and activities in light of the rising needs. This was particularly the case for the Food Security and Livelihoods (FSL) Cluster, which will now aim to reach 5.7 million people in need, following the outcomes of the IPC for the lean season.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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