South Sudan

South Sudan: 2021 Humanitarian Access Overview (January to December 2021)

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Humanitarian organizations faced continued and widespread access challenges in 2021, with an increase in incidents reported to and verified by OCHA, from 580 in 2020 to 591 in 2021. The increase in incidents, albeit moderate, was triggered by active hostilities, sub-national violence, and violence against humanitarian workers and assets and severely hindered humanitarian operations and disrupted programme delivery, and assistance to vulnerable people. Abnormal flooding, poor road conditions, logistical challenges, and damage to infrastructure further compounded the already strained access environment. Despite strong advocacy, access constraints remained under-reported by partners, which explains the ostensibly marginal rise in access constraints despite increased sub-national violence and violence against humanitarian workers and assets.

Incident severity increased substantially in 2021: 58 per cent of reported incidents were significant in severity, compared to 44 per cent in 2020. Central Equatoria recorded the highest concentration of reported incidents, 137, primarily due to active hostilities in parts of Lainya, Morobo and Yei counties. Twenty-two of these incidents included severe access impediments at Juba International Airport, violence and threats against humanitarian personnel and assets, bureaucratic impediments, and operational interference.

Bureaucratic impediments, access denials and operational interference accounted for 221 of the reported incidents in 2021, 25 more than in 2020. Humanitarian staff footprint decreased due to violence against humanitarian workers which led to the relocation of 322 staff from Renk, Pibor, Tambura, Nagero, Tonj, and Jamjang. Incidents such as demands for local employment by organized youth groups, particularly in Renk and Pibor, led to the suspension of humanitarian activities, substantially disrupting multi-sectoral assistance. Safety of humanitarian workers continued to be alarming in 2021, with five aid workers killed, bringing the total number of humanitarian worker deaths to 129 since 2013. Such deaths are mostly attributed to roadside ambushes in Eastern Equatoria, Lakes and Jonglei, as well as targeted killings in Panyijiar. Unprecedented flooding experienced since 2019 has made physical access to affected populations extremely challenging, disrupting humanitarian assistance service provisions.

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