Almost 70% of South Sudan’s population is in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Thousands of people are living in famine-like conditions, and 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.
In February 2020, South Sudan formed a transitional government of national unity to leave 6 years of civil war behind. However, progress in the implementation of the peace agreement has been slow. A spike in violence caused over 2,400 civilian deaths in 2020, more than double the previous year. Conflict, insecurity and natural hazards have displaced nearly 4 million people since 2013, with many forced to flee multiple times. An estimated 1.6 million people are internally displaced, while an additional 2.2 million are refugees in neighbouring countries.
Over the past few months, vulnerable communities have suffered the effects of conflict, major flooding, and COVID-19. As a result, some 8.3 million people require humanitarian assistance in 2021 – 800,000 more than last year.
Due to violence, South Sudan is currently facing its worst food crisis on record: an estimated 30,000 people are living in famine-like conditions and more than 7 million people face severe food insecurity. The mid-2021 lean season is projected to be the worst ever in terms of severity, with 1 million more people in acute food insecurity comparing to the same period last year. Malnutrition remains a major public health emergency, with more than 1.8 million children and pregnant and breastfeeding women expected to be acutely malnourished in 2021 – the highest number in 3 years.
Increased insecurity hampers humanitarian access: 9 humanitarian workers were killed in 2020 (compared to 3 in 2019) and already 4 have lost their life in 2021. At least 22 looting incidents of humanitarian supplies took place in 2020, compared to 6 in 2019.
In 2021, the European Union has allocated over €79 million for humanitarian actions covering the response to food insecurity, violence and floods across South Sudan. This also includes almost €3 million in support of the national COVID-19 vaccination rollout, and additional funding for addressing famine and boosting food security.
With the highest levels of food insecurity and malnutrition on record across the country, the EU provides emergency 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 assistance to displaced people and those affected by trauma and widespread violence, including children, women and girls. Specific actions are focused on reintegrating 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.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the EU humanitarian partners in South Sudan have adopted new measures to keep beneficiaries and staff safe, while continuing to provide life-saving assistance to vulnerable communities.
In 2020, more than €6 million in EU humanitarian funding helped aid 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 South Sudan’s COVID-19 Response Plan.
Last year, the EU also funded 2 Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to help vital humanitarian supplies reach the people in need. The operations also allowed the transport of much-needed material to support the coronavirus response.
The EU continues to strongly support principled humanitarian assistance and advocate for the protection of humanitarian workers and their safe and sustained access to all parts of the country.
In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. At least €14 million out of this funding will be supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in Eastern Africa.