The humanitarian situation in South Sudan continued to deteriorate in March 2017. By the end of the month, about 3.6 million South Sudanese people had been forced out of their homes, including about 1.9 million internally displaced and 1.74 million seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. In Eastern Equatoria, there was a significant spike in displacement, particularly in Magwi County. In Jonglei, new arrivals were reported in Akobo, Lankien, and Duk, while in Western Bahr el Ghazal, clashes between cattle keepers from Warrap and farmers in Jur River caused displacement, and violence was reported in areas south east of Wau town. In Upper Nile, there were new arrivals into Aburoc, as government forces gained additional territory on the West Bank. At least 1,000 people left the Malakal Protection of Civilians site in March, with family reunification cited as the main reason for departure. Refugee outflows to Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda all increased, and cholera cases were confirmed in Malakal.
March was a dangerous and deadly month for humanitarians in South Sudan. Seven aid workers were killed, including six murdered on 25 March in an ambush on the Juba-Pibor road and a health worker killed in an ambush in Yirol East on 14 March while responding to the cholera outbreak. In Unity, aid workers were detained by opposition forces during skirmishes in Mayendit town, forcing the suspension of programming in this famine-affected area. The overall operating environment deteriorated, with an increase in the number of humanitarian access incidents reported in March (79) compared to February (70). Active hostilities forced the withdrawal of humanitarian staff from Leer, Ayod and Twic East and involved looting of humanitarian assets.
The month saw a concerted scale-up of the response in famine-affected and famine-at-risk areas, including increased food deliveries and cross-sectoral rapid response missions to complement existing static presence. By the end of March, humanitarians had reached more than 2.5 million people across South Sudan, out of 5.8 million targeted under the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). However, while additional pledges were announced during the month, the US$1.6 billion appeal for 2017 for South Sudan was just 19 per cent funded by the end of March.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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