Around 7.4 million South Sudanese need urgent humanitarian assistance, many of whom face severe food shortages. Undernutrition is at critical levels. There are over 2 million South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries. The EU is a long-standing donor of humanitarian aid in the country and continues to support humanitarian projects helping South Sudanese refugees in the region.
Since 2013, conflict in South Sudan has caused mass displacement among civilians. Despite the formation of a transitional government of national unity in February 2020, progress in the implementation of the peace agreement has been slow, and there has been a spike in violence recently. This volatility continues to drive people away from their homes and disrupts livelihood activities. On top of this, floods and the desert locust swarms are destroying harvests and crops. Some 1.7 million children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are at risk of acute malnourishment. 5.5 million people lack access to safe water and hygiene. More than half of the population do not have access to primary health care services
South Sudan registered its first cases of coronavirus in April 2020. The pandemic represents a challenge for the country’s extremely weak national health system. Moreover, South Sudan is grappling with other outbreaks, such as measles and above-normal seasonal malaria levels. The country has one of the highest proportions of out-of-school children in the world – about 2 million children before the global pandemic, and another 2 million due to closure of schools nationwide.
The conflict in South Sudan triggered a mass exodus to Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan. One third of the South Sudanese population continues to live in displacement.
120 aid workers have been killed in South Sudan since the start of the civil war in 2013. While humanitarian access to people in need improved in 2019, aid workers’ security remains a major concern.
In 2020, the European Union is allocating €42.5 million in support of humanitarian action in South Sudan.
With emergency levels of food insecurity and malnutrition across the country, the EU provides food assistance and nutrition interventions, including in hard-to-reach areas. EU humanitarian funds support the acquisition and distribution of nutrition products, including ready-to-use therapeutic foods for the treatment of malnourished children and mothers.
EU-funded projects also provide protection support to displaced people and people who are carrying the scars of war trauma and violence, including children. Specific actions are focused on reintegrating children who were previously recruited as child soldiers. The protection of children and women is a priority for the EU given the extreme levels of violence and the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.
In face of the coronavirus pandemic, the EU humanitarian partners in South Sudan are adopting measures within their actions and adapting to the new challenges to keep beneficiaries and staff safe, while continuing to provide life-saving assistance to support vulnerable communities. Out of the EU’s 2020 humanitarian funding in South Sudan, more than €6 million is helping humanitarian organisations scale up vulnerable people’s access to health, water, sanitation and hygiene, while providing essential protective equipment for health workers. These actions are implemented in line with the South Sudan COVID-19 Country Preparedness and Response Plan. The EU is also funding two Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to help vital humanitarian supplies reach the people in need as well as allow the transport of much-needed material to support the coronavirus response.
The EU continues to call for the protection of humanitarian workers and for their safe and sustained access to all parts of the country.
In reaction to the desert locust swarms infesting countries in East Africa, in March 2020 the EU mobilised €9 million in humanitarian support for South Sudan to address food shortages, provide nutrition support, strengthen logistics services and provide livelihood support to pastoralists and farmers affected by the desert locust outbreak in the country.