Since civil war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, fighting, sexual violence, and human rights abuses continue unabated while the delivery of humanitarian aid is obstructed by restrictions and insecurity. As the conflict in the world’s youngest nation enters its fifth year, food insecurity is at its highest level ever. Two-thirds of the population is at risk of severe food shortages. The manmade crisis has had an effect on countries in the region where close to 2.5 million South Sudanese have taken refuge.
Conflict continues to cause displacement and to affect local trade; supplies in local markets are low, which have caused food prices to rise. A year after famine was declared in parts of South Sudan, the food security situation remains fragile.The conflict has also affected health care and education. Just 22% of health facilities are fully operational (UNOCHA) and 5.1 million people need help accessing health care. The destruction and occupation of schools continues; three-quarters of children are out of school (UNICEF) and 1.8 million school-aged children need access to education.
The conflict is characterised by serious violations and abuses due to its ethnic dimensions, which leaves 6.4 million people in need of some form of protection, including from sexual violence.
Due to the population displacements and destruction of water and sanitation facilities, 5.6 million people urgently need access to safe water, especially those who fled to the swamps where they are vulnerable to disease outbreaks. The conflict has triggered a mass exodus to Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan. The number of displaced South Sudanese, both internally and across borders, has risen to over 4 million.
In 2017, the European Union provided €248 million to address the crisis, €122 million for humanitarian organisations in South Sudan and €126 million for assistance to refugees in the region. So far in 2018, €45 million in assistance has been provided to South Sudan and €47.3 million for the regional refugee response.
The EU prioritises support to emergency preparedness and response teams. They respond to new emergencies with food assistance, health screenings, vaccinations, access to water and sanitation, essential household items, education in emergencies, and shelter for populations in most need. Of the 1.76 million displaced people, almost 210 000 live around UN peacekeeping bases, in so-called protection of civilian sites. The EU supports humanitarian organisations in the provision of basic services, shelter, and protection.
With emergency levels of malnutrition reported in numerous locations and, according to UNICEF, the prospect of 250 000 severely malnourished children in 2018, EU humanitarian funding is used to set up nutrition centres where children, and pregnant and nursing women can receive treatment and care. As in previous years, the EU greatly contributed to the humanitarian effort in 2017 which saw 1.8 million children vaccinated against measles, more than 180 000 children treated for severe acute malnutrition, and 300 000 children access education. Pre-famine conditions persist across the country and thousands of people are already facing famine conditions. The EU has helped UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) to expand food assistance and nutrition interventions in hard to reach areas with the highest needs, particularly Jonglei, Upper Nile and most recently the Equatorias. EU funding has also ensured that the required ready-to-use therapeutic foods are available well into 2018.
With more than 100 aid workers killed since the start of the conflict in 2013 and an increase in abductions of humanitarian workers, the EU has called on all parties to the conflict to grant free, safe and sustained access to all areas and eliminate bureaucratic impediments that delay aid and divert scarce resources.
Almost 2.5 million South Sudanese have fled into neighbouring countries. The EU supports refugees with food assistance, shelter, health and nutrition care, psycho-social assistance, and education both in South Sudan and the countries of refuge. About half of all South Sudanese refugees are children below the age of 18. The EU also funds specific protection programmes for unaccompanied minors and for survivors of sexual and gender based violence.