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 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 2.5 million people (one in five) 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 830,000 have sought safety in neighboring 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 and intensifying insecurity in part of the country, especially in Unity, Upper Nile, Jonglei and Western Equatoria states. Today, 4.8 million people are in desperate need for food and clean water.

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.

  • One in three people are severely food insecure.
  • In the worst lean season since the country’s independence, as many as 5.3 million people are expected to face severe hunger this year.
  • More than 686,000 children (one in four) under five are estimated to be acutely malnourished.
  • 6.1 million people will need some humanitarian assistance by the end of 2016.
  • 87% of people have no access to improved sanitation and only 47% have access to safe water.
  • Dozens of cholera cases have been registered across the country in July 2016.
  • Sexual and gender based violence is rampant, and it is estimated that 15,000 to 16,000 children are currently recruited by armed actors.

Addressing growing needs: Oxfam’s work

Oxfam has been present in South Sudan since 1983, helping with humanitarian aid and development support in 21 locations across eight states. 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.

In response to the cholera outbreak, Oxfam has re-started prevention activities in Juba, aiming to reach up to 10,000 people. Cholera is a constant threat in South Sudan and within security hampering access to clean water the possibility that this outbreak could claim more lives is real. 

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. 

As well as providing relief, Oxfam is  working with the people of South Sudan to urge national and international political leaders to end the violence, secure a durable and inclusive political solution and enable aid agencies to reach those in need safely. 

Donors must deliver on previous commitments and swiftly disburse new funding to address a worsening humanitarian and economic situation.

Updated 25 July 2016.