South Sudan Situation Report, 30 October 2019

HIGHLIGHTS

  • South Sudan: Three humanitarian workers killed

  • Amid rising concerns about mental health, increased suicide cases in Malakal Protection of Civilians site

  • South Sudan Humanitarian Fund allocates US$36 million to respond to life-saving needs

  • New research finds 1.5 million internally displaced persons in South Sudan

  • More than 6.35 million people severely food insecure in August despite large scale humanitarian assistance

KEY FIGURES

7.2M People in need
5.7M People targeted
1.47M Internally displaced people
4.54M Acutely food insecure (Sept-Dec)

FUNDING

$1.5B Required
$871.3M Received
58% Progress

ACCESS

South Sudan: Three humanitarian workers killed

On 27 October, three International Organization for Migration (IOM) volunteers, one female and two males, were killed in a crossfire during clashes that broke out between armed groups in South Sudan. Two other volunteers were wounded during the incident and one volunteer is currently missing.

The Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Alain Noudéhou, strongly condemned the killings and called for the safety and security of humanitarian workers at all times. He also demanded that those responsible for the acts be brought to justice.

“Humanitarian workers risk their lives every day to provide life-saving assistance to people in need in South Sudan. Their safety and security must be assured at all times,” he said.

IOM has suspended Ebola virus disease screening at five sites along the border with the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo and put on hold its support to health facilities in the area.

This is the first killing of aid workers reported in South Sudan since 2018.

At least 115 aid workers have been killed since the start of the conflict in December 2013. Most have been South Sudanese nationals.

FEATURE

Amid rising concerns about mental health, increased suicide cases in Malakal Protection of Civilians site

The legacy of conflict, displacement and lack of mental health services in South Sudan have led to a reported increase in the number of people dealing with mental health conditions across the country. In Upper Nile, a rise of suicides and suicide attempts has been recorded especially among young adults in Malakal Protection of Civilians site and Malakal town.

Ninety-five suicide cases were reported in the protected site between January and July 2019. Of those, 94 per cent were attempted suicide. Some 55 per cent involved women. Two thirds were people between the age of 19 and 35.

No systematic research has been done yet, but according to focus group discussions done in the site, the high number of suicide cases was attributed to the effects of the years of conflict, violence, depression, poor health, loneliness, caused by isolation from family and friends, with some displaced people often finding themselves hundreds of miles from their homes and support networks, socio-economic hardship, lack of opportunities for youth and therefore inability to start one’s own family, increased level of drug abuse or of locally brewed alcohol.

Despite the high psychosocial stress, the mental health care system in the country is still weak. South Sudan has only three psychiatrists serving the entire population, and only one psychiatric inpatient facility in Juba. The situation is even worse in the most conflict-affected parts of the country, including Upper Nile.

Yet, suicide is preventable and prevention is one of the most effective ways to reduce the burden. The earlier signs of distress are identified and addressed, the better. Knowing the risk factors and recognizing the warning signs for suicide can help prevent suicide.

Humanitarian organizations have established a mental health medical facility at the site to tackle mental health issues. A mental health and psychosocial support mobile response team has scaled up suicide prevention messages. Key messages are being passed at the water points and through plays in the site. Aid agencies are conducting referral to existing services, conducting dialogue sessions with vulnerable groups, fighting the stigma and taboo around suicide, and working with other humanitarian organizations to improve access to socio-economic opportunities for the site’s young population. In addition, community leaders in the site have been trained as mental health first aiders and are disseminating key messages on suicide prevention to communities.

In 2013, conflict forced most of the population in Malakal town and surrounding areas to flee their homes, with some seeking shelter in the UNMISS protected site in Malakal. The site population peaked at just under 48,000 individuals in August 2015 and has since reduced to some 30,000 people, per the population head count conducted by humanitarians at the end of September 2019. Nearly 52 per cent of the people currently sheltering in the site are women who face risks of violence daily. Women and girls who must leave the camp in search of firewood are particularly at risk.

South Sudan Humanitarian Fund allocates US$36 million to respond to life-saving needs

The South Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SSHF) has allocated US$36 million under the second standard allocation of the year, targeting an estimated 1.3 million people. Fifty-six per cent of the beneficiaries are women and girls.

The funds will allow about 212,000 vulnerable South Sudanese to access mobile health services and some 130,000 individuals to access safe water. Nearly 160,000 children will be vaccinated against measles to stem the spread of the disease; some 145,000 infants and young children will access feeding counselling; and nearly 33,000 children will receive meals at school. Some 576,000 individuals will receive vegetable kits consisting of seeds and tools, improving families’ self-sufficiency and access to food. Some 103,000 people will receive essential household items, and nearly 103,000 internally displaced persons will benefit from site management activities in Protection of Civilians sites and collective centers.

This is the first time that an integrated multi-sector approach to the humanitarian response was introduced during the allocation process since the pooled fund was established, with $16.5 million allocated for 31 projects implemented by more than one humanitarian cluster. Activities undertaken by humanitarian organizations working across sectors include mitigating underlying causes of high mortality, like severe malnutrition in children under 5 years of age, and targeting schools with WASH activities and hygiene campaigns.

Some $15 million representing 42 per cent of the total allocation were channeled to local NGOs, in line with the Grand Bargain localization agenda, which emphasizes the promotion of principled humanitarian action that is “as local as possible and as international as necessary”. Another 45 per cent was allocated to international NGOs and 13 per cent to United Nations agencies.

The 26 counties targeted by the SSHF funding are Morobo, Kajo-Keji and Yei in Central Equatoria; Akobo, Bor South, Canal/Pigi, Duk, Pibor and Twic East in Jonglei; Cueibet, Rumbek Centre, Rumbek East, Yirol East and Yirol West in Lakes; Aweil East and Aweil South in Northern Bahr el Ghazal; Koch, Luakpiny/Nasir, Panyijiar, Pariang and Rubkona in Unity; Tonj North and Twic in Warrap; and Jur River, Raga and Wau in Western Bahr el Ghazal.

The second standard allocation brings the total funding allocated by the pooled fund in 2019 to $70.5 million. The funds are used to implement 167 projects to support response to unmet humanitarian needs and implementation of priority sectoral activities outlined in the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan. The SSHF enables targeting of funds to the most critical needs, and improves efficiency and timely response to emergencies in the country.

The SSHF is a multi-donor pooled fund that supports the allocation and disbursement of donor resources to meet the most critical needs in harmonized ways to create greater overall impact. New contributions are urgently needed to continue addressing the most critical needs of the vulnerable people.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.