2017 IN REVIEW
Humanitarian situation in 2017
South Sudan’s conflict continued unabated through its fourth year, with civilians continuing to bear the brunt of a crisis marked by displacement, hunger and disease. Major offensives in Jonglei and Upper Nile forced tens of thousands of people to flee fighting in Wau Shilluk, Tonga, Maiwut and Pagak. In Unity, Koch and Mayendit saw intensified clashes. The Equatorias were hardest hit by conflict, with Yei, Lainya, Wonduruba, Kajo-keji, Magwi and Torit among the most affected locations.
By year end, 4.3 million people, one in three South Sudanese, had been uprooted, including 1.9 million internally displaced and over 2.4 million refugees in neighbouring countries. Around 85 per cent are women and children. Nearly 700,000 people left South Sudan. As conflict intensified in the Equatorias, South Sudanese refugees in Uganda reached one million by August.
Continuing economic decline
The cost of living escalated throughout the year, with effects most acute in urban areas. Annual inflation in Juba exceeded 180 per cent, as the local currency depreciated to record lows against the US dollar. Fuel shortages worsened, and the payment of salaries for public sector employees was disrupted.
Food insecurity and malnutrition escalated. In February famine was declared in Unity, with some 100,000 people facing starvation. According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), by September a record 6 million people across the country were severely food insecure. While famine was alleviated through the coordinated response, at year end the outlook for 2018 was for worsening food insecurity and malnutrition.
Worsening health crisis
Conflict and economic hardship continued to undermine the delivery of basic health services, weakening people’s ability to cope with illness. Diseases such as cholera, malaria, measles, meningitis and kalaazar continued to spread. Over 20,000 cases of cholera were reported, with 436 related fatalities, in the country’s longest ever outbreak that started in 2016. Only an estimated 22 per cent of health facilities remained fully operational, as a result of the destruction of infrastructure, attacks on health workers and shortages of supplies and skilled personnel.
Unchecked rights violations
Violence and rights violations were ubiquitous and largely unconstrained. Gender-based violence (GBV), was pervasive although widely unreported as a result of stigma and fear. Daily tasks for subsistence, such as collecting water and firewood, placed women and girls at risk. Other vulnerable groups such as older people and people with disabilities faced the worst consequences of the conflict and lack of basic services.
Children increasingly at risk
Reported incidents of recruitment, abuse, exploitation and other serious violations affecting children surpassed 100,000 since the start of the conflict. The number of children recruited into armed groups surpassed 19,000, and the number of registered cases of unaccompanied, separated or missing children topped 16,000. Damage and destruction to schools and the absence of teachers continued to undermine access to education, with a record number of children – more than 2 million – out of school.
Refugees hosted in South Sudan
By the end of 2017 some 279,000 refugees were being hosted, many from Sudan, located mainly in the north of the country, and others from Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia, located mainly in the south of the country. Refugees were exposed to violence in conflict affected areas, limiting access to basic services and constraining livelihood options. The number of people seeking refuge in South Sudan was expected to increase to more than 300,000 in 2018.
Insecurity and humanitarian access
Thirty aid workers were killed in 2017, the deadliest year for aid workers in South Sudan on record. At least 1,159 humanitarian access-related incidents were reported, the most incidents tracked in a year to date and a significant increase over 2016 (908 incidents reported) and 2015 (909 incidents reported). Active hostilities impacted humanitarian operations, with 612 aid workers relocated from different areas across the country in 54 separate incidents. Operational interference and bureaucratic impediments persistently challenged humanitarian operations.
Rigorously prioritised and coordinated response
Despite these challenges, more than 5.4 million people were assisted under the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), including over 5.1 million people who received food assistance; 2.8 million people who were vaccinated against communicable diseases; 2.8 million people who were helped with access to clean water; and 930,000 people who received vital non-food items. Around 950,000 children and pregnant and lactating women were treated for acute malnutrition; and 420,000 children facing crisis were supported with access to education.
The 2017 HRP was 73 per cent funded, with US$1.2 billion secured. Logistics, Food Security and Livelihoods, Camp Coordination and Camp Management, and Nutrition secured higher coverage of their requirements. Other clusters secured less than half of their requirements, including Coordination and Common Services, Education, Health, Emergency Shelter and Non-food Items, Protection and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.