South Sudan

UNICEF South Sudan Humanitarian Situation Report, 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017

Situation Report
Originally published



  • A famine was declared in early 2017 in South Sudan – the first famine declaration anywhere in the world in six years. Although localized famine had subsided by the middle of the year due to a strong, well-coordinated response by UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies, some 4.8 million people remained severely food insecure by the end of 2017. This number is likely to go up with an earlier-than-expected start to the lean season in 2018.

  • In 2017, South Sudan experienced the longest-running and most severe cholera outbreak in its history – the outbreak began in June 2016. There were 20,438 cases reported with 436 deaths (case fatality rate of 2.13 per cent). A total of 10,964 cholera cases – out of which 4,774 children (46 per cent) – were treated in UNICEFsupported centres.

  • In addition to advocacy efforts to overcome growing access constraints, UNICEF together with WFP conducted 51 integrated Rapid Response Mechanism (IRRM) missions, reaching 781,128 people and 140,974 children in hard-to-reach and remote locations.

  • As set out in detail in the table below, and in Annex A on page nine, UNICEF performed extremely well against all targets. This is due to effective coordination with implementing partners, constructive engagement with government authorities and a strong field presence throughout the country.


1.9 million Internally displaced persons (IDPs) since 15 December 2013 (OCHA South Sudan Humanitarian Bulletin, 22 December 2017)

2.1 million South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries since 15 December 2013 (OCHA South Sudan Humanitarian Bulletin, 22 December 2017)

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

The fourth year of the current conflict in South Sudan, which began on 15 December 2013, has closed with the humanitarian needs of its people greater than ever. In 2017, 7.6 million people across the country remained in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The situation remained especially dire for children, who comprise more than half of the population in need. Genderbased violence (GBV) is endemic. Women and girls continued to be at risk of sexual violence, while boys continued to face recruitment into armed groups. Almost two million school-aged children are out of school and about 1.3 million children are at risk of dropping out.

Although the famine that was declared in early 2017 had officially subsided by mid-year, hunger and malnutrition continued at historic levels, with 4.8 million people severely food insecure in December, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification. Some 1.1 million children under five were estimated to be acutely malnourished by the end of the year. The economic crisis also worsened, further limiting people’s access to basic resources. By December, the South Sudanese Pound (SSP) had hit a record-low of 200 SSP to 1 US Dollar (compared to 100 SSP to 1 US Dollar at the same time in 2016). Hyperinflation and severe food insecurity have also taken a toll on health. This year saw South Sudan experiencing the longest-running cholera outbreak, with persistent cholera ‘hotspots’ as well as previously unaffected areas reporting incidents throughout 2017. Malaria remained the leading cause of child mortality and preventable diseases such as measles and meningitis continued to rise in 2017. Poor health practices such as open defecation continued to adversely impact people’s health and wellbeing. Some 90 per cent of the population do not have access to improved sanitation, and over 5.3 million people urgently require safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support.

At the same time, the lack of sustained access became more pronounced in 2017 with a 25 per cent increase in the number of humanitarian access incidents reported (1,140 in 2017, compared to 908 in 2016). Looting of humanitarian supplies, deaths of aid workers and bureaucratic impediments hindered humanitarian aid programmes.