Since civil war broke out in 2013, fighting, sexual violence and grave human rights abuses have continued unabated in South Sudan. In February 2017, the UN declared famine in two counties. The crisis in South Sudan is a manmade protection crisis, with a ripple effect around the region where more than 2 million people have taken refuge. Restrictions and violence are obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid. South Sudan has become one of the most dangerous places in the world for aid workers and civilians alike.
South Sudan suffers from decades of conflict and neglect, corruption and mismanagement. In 2016 the conflict expanded across the country. Extreme violence coupled with economic decline and worsening food insecurity has led to a crisis of unprecedented proportions. The mid-year review of the 2017 UN Humanitarian Response Plan estimates that 7.6 million people are need of assistance. The number of displaced, both internally and across borders, has risen to nearly 4 million. The conflict has triggered a mass exodus, with most South Sudanese refugees crossing into Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan. A localised famine was declared in February; however a massive humanitarian effort succeeded in preventing a further deterioration of the situation. However, food insecurity remains very high with 6 million people experiencing severe food insecurity and malnutrition often above the emergency malnutrition threshold. A lack of access to water and sanitation facilities further exacerbates the critical food security and nutrition situation.
The health care sector is on its knees. Since December 2013, 106 health facilities have been closed, while many others have been looted or destroyed. A cholera outbreak has been on-going since December 2016 and is the longest and deadliest in the country’s history. Adherence to international humanitarian law remains of particular concern.
The European Commission is among the biggest humanitarian aid donors to UN and non-governmental partners in South Sudan. From 2013 to date, the Commission has made more than €423 million available to respond to the worsening humanitarian situation. In 2017 alone, the Commission has mobilised €192 million to address the food, nutrition and health crisis and help the refugees. Of this, €122 was set aside for partners in South Sudan itself and €70 million for partners addressing the refugee crisis in neighbouring countries. The Commission has prioritised funding emergency preparedness and response teams, working throughout the country to respond with humanitarian aid, providing food assistance, health screenings, vaccinations, access to water and sanitation, and distribution of essential non-food items and emergency shelters to affected communities. This has been particularly important to respond in famine-declared areas.
There are over 212 000 internally displaced people in the UN’s protection of civilian sites, 54% of whom are women and girls. The Commission supports partner organisations in these sites to offer protection and shelter.
With over 270 000 severely malnourished children in South Sudan, the European Commission has been on the forefront in supporting partners across the country to set up nutrition centres to treat the children, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Severely malnourished children are at a very high risk of dying if not timely treated. So far 116 000 severely malnourished children have been treated and saved in 2017 with the support of the European Commission and other donors,
Through EU humanitarian funding, UNICEF/WFP’s integrated rapid response mechanisms are able to scale-up food assistance and nutrition interventions in hard to reach areas with the highest needs, particularly in Jonglei, Upper Nile and most recently in the Equatorias. Commission funding has also insured that the required nutrition treatment products are available and prepositioned well into to 2018.
Over 2 million South Sudanese have fled across the borders, with half of them going into Uganda. The Commission supports the refugees with food assistance, shelter, health and nutrition as well as education and vocational training for children and the youth. Of the total number of refugees in the region, 1.2 million (or 63% of the refugees) are children below the age of 18. A number of the children arrive at the refugee camps unaccompanied, requiring special protection. The Commission funds protection programmes inside refugee camps for the unaccompanied minors, as well as for women who have suffered gender-based and sexual violence.