Crisis in South Sudan

Women collect water in Mingkaman, South Sudan
Women collect water in Mingkaman, South Sudan. Photo by Kieran Doherty.

South Sudan is currently facing an acute humanitarian crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity due to an on-going conflict. Millions of people have been displaced and remain in urgent need of aid. With your help we can reach more conflict-affected people and  reachthem with vital assistance.

A man-made disaster

Following decades of fighting, South Sudan formally became an independent state in July 2011. There was high expectation for growth and many believed they would not see another conflict in the country which they had fought so hard and so long to create.

Unfortunately, a power crisis erupted in Juba in mid-December 2013 which quickly became a national, political and ethnic conflict, quickly spreading across many parts of the country and leading to the death of thousands of women, children and men.

Since then, more than 2.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to brutal war. Out of these, 1.6 million have been internally displaced in South Sudan and more than 777,000 have sought safety in neighbouring countries, mainly Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda.

Despite the signing of a peace agreement in August 2015, the ceasefire has been repeatedly breached, renewing fighting in part of the country, especially in Unity State and Western Equatoria State. Millions of people remain in desperate need for food, clean water, health care, sanitation, shelter and protection.

A deep economic crisis

Most people in South Sudan rely on subsistence agriculture based on crop production and cattle for basic survival. Those who have been forced to flee their homes have lost their means of feeding their families because they were forced to abandon their farms and livestock.

The country has spiralled into an economic free-fall characterised by food and fuel prices which have skyrocketed and an ever-rising cost of living. Trade and local markets have been disrupted and food stock has depleted.

Human suffering

People’s ability to cope with rising food insecurity is being stretched to breaking point. It is one of the world’s worst food crises, and is set to get even worse if the fighting does notstop.

  • 2.8 million people – almost quarter of the population – are expected to be severely hungry this year and are in need of emergency food assistance
  • 6.1 million people will need some humanitarian assistance by the end of 2016
  • An estimated 231,300 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition
  • 87% of people have no access to improved sanitation and only 47% have access to safe water.
  • Sexual and gender based violence is rampant, and it is estimated that 16,000 children may have been recruited and used by armed forces and groups across the country since 2014.

Addressing growing needs: Oxfam’s work

Oxfam has been present in South Sudan since 1983. Since the start of the crisis in December 2013, we have provided humanitarian assistance to nearly 860,000 people, including emergency food, clean water and sanitation facilities, hygiene promotion, fuel and income support.

Through our long-term development program, often working through South Sudanese partners, 350,000 people have been supported in activities to improve agriculture and rebuild livelihoods, peace building and reconciliation as well as good governance. Oxfam has also helped over 100,000 South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia and 145,000 in Uganda.

  • From our bases in two of the worst affected states, Jonglei and Unity, we coordinate food distribution to people displaced by the conflict as well as those hosting them.
  • We drill or repair boreholes and rehabilitate damaged water systems to improve access to clean water.
  • We construct latrines in camps and settlements to provide safe and sanitary spaces and prevent the spread of disease.
  • We distribute seeds and farming tools to displaced communities, conduct training on farming methods and provide fishing gear.

Averting a deeper emergency

Aid in South Sudan is making a difference, but with renewed and increasing violence in some areas, delivering aid to populations  and accessing the affected areas is becoming more and more challenging.

The only way to address this crisis is to end the violence and secure a durable and inclusive political solution. All parties in the conflict must end attacks on civilians and allow people to safely reach humanitarian assistance.

Oxfam is calling for timely implementation of the peace agreement signed last year and for unrestricted access to conflict areas to deliver much needed supplies. Donors must deliver on previous commitments and swiftly disburse new funding to address a worsening humanitarian and economic situation.

Updated 13 April 2016.