Dashed hopes in Southern Sudan

southern sudan women collect water

A human-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. 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.

  • One in three people are severely food insecure
  • In the worst lean season since the country’s independence, as many as 3 million people are expected to face severe hunger this year
  • More than 686,200 children (one in four) under five are estimated to be acutely malnourished.
  • 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.
  • Sexual and gender based violence is rampant, and it is estimated that 15,000 to 16,000 children are currently recruited by armed actors.

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. (Thanks to Oxfam for this report)

MCC and partner organizations in South Sudan have these goals for engagement:

  • provide food baskets for 10,028 vulnerable displaced people in Mundri
  • supply 11,340 displaced people in Budi County with monthly food vouchers
  • provide three days of food to 300 vulnerable South Sudanese refugees in Kakuma Reufgee Camp
  • train 80 local women and youth church leaders in trauma healing
  • prepare a shipment of relief kits, hygiene kits, blankets and canned meat

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