South Sudan Complex Emergency Fact Sheet #2 FY18

December 05, 2017

  • Targeted violence and armed clashes result in aid worker and civilian deaths
  • WFP convoy transports emergency food assistance from Sudan to Aweil, South Sudan

Clashes among armed groups continue to endanger civilians and limit humanitarian access in South Sudan. On November 28, intercommunal violence in Jonglei State resulted in the death of at least 45 civilians, including six people working for two non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and injured nearly 20 other civilians, the UN reports.

More than 6 million people in South Sudan will likely require emergency food assistance by May 2018, with Famine—IPC 5—levels of acute food insecurity possible in some areas of the country, according to a report by the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).5 The analysis found that food security is expected to deteriorate countrywide beginning in early 2018.

Numbers At A Glance

1.86 million

IDPs in South Sudan


Individuals Seeking Refuge at UNMISS Bases

2.1 million

Refugees and Asylum Seekers from South Sudan in Neighboring Countries

1 million

South Sudanese Refugees in Uganda


Refugees from Neighboring Countries in South Sudan

4.8 million

People in Need of Food Assistance in South Sudan

Humanitarian Funding

For the South Sudan Response

USAID/OFDA $135,303,361
USAID/FFP $528,362,015
State/PRM $83,848,939

Total USAID and State Emergency FY 2017 Funding for the South Sudan Crisis; Includes Funding for South Sudanese Refugees in Neighboring Countries: $747,514,315

Total USG Humanitarian Funding for the South Sudan Response in FY 2014-2017, Including Funding for South Sudanese Refugees in Neighboring Countries: $2,920,511,029

On November 28, intercommunal conflict between the Bor Dinka and Murle ethnic groups in Jonglei’s Duk County resulted in at least 45 civilian deaths, including six humanitarian workers, and nearly 20 injured civilians, according to the UN. The attackers also looted civilian property and an NGO-managed health facility, abducted women and children, and displaced civilians to neighboring villages. The following day, UN Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) for South Sudan Alain Noudéhou issued a public statement condemning the attacks and called on armed elements to respect civilians and aid workers.

A 19-truck UN World Food Program (WFP) humanitarian convoy carrying approximately 500 metric tons (MT) of emergency food commodities—sufficient to assist an estimated 30,000 people for one month—arrived in South Sudan’s Aweil town in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State on November 27. The convoy, containing food commodities provided by USAID/FFP, is the first to travel from Sudan’s El Obeid town, utilizing the El Obeid–Aweil humanitarian corridor, since the Government of Sudan approved use of the route in October. Overall, WFP can transport emergency food commodities from Sudan to three locations in South Sudan—Aweil, Bentiu town in Unity State, and Renk town in Upper Nile State. The additional corridor will also improve WFP’s ability to pre-position emergency food assistance for rapid and regular distributions during the 2018 May-to-September rainy season in South Sudan. The UN agency continues to assess opportunities to deliver emergency food assistance more effectively to populations in need across South Sudan.

Renewed clashes in Unity’s Leer and Mayendit counties had forced at least 28 relief workers to relocate to areas of relative safety as of November 22, disrupting humanitarian operations in the counties, according to the UN. Relief actors reported increased tensions between Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and SPLA-In Opposition forces prior to the fighting, with rumors of an imminent attack on Leer. The clashes resulted in at least two civilian deaths and caused an undetermined number of civilians to flee to remote areas, according to relief actors. Humanitarian organizations are verifying levels of population displacement and identifying emergency humanitarian needs resulting from the clashes.

On November 17, multi-agency response team—including USAID partners—provided emergency health, nutrition, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance to vulnerable populations in Torit County’s Gunyoro and Iholong areas, Eastern Equatoria State, marking the first time that humanitarian actors were able to access Gunyoro and Iholong since early July. Local authorities had previously suspended humanitarian access due to a resurgence of armed clashes. The humanitarian organizations successfully completed emergency food and relief commodity distributions in Gunyoro; however, rumors of an imminent attack by armed actors prompted the response team to suspend activities in Iholong on November 20, leaving undistributed commodities in the custody of local authorities, according to the UN.

On November 9, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir issued a decree ordering all parties to the conflict to ensure free and unimpeded movement for NGOs and humanitarian convoys throughout the country. According to the decree, the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GoRSS) will hold accountable any individual or group who seizes informal payments from relief convoys or otherwise obstructs the delivery of humanitarian assistance, with both national and local officials expected to facilitate emergency relief efforts.

Despite the presidential decree, humanitarian actors report that bureaucratic impediments continue to hinder relief operations across the country. For example, one NGO recently suspended emergency WASH activities in Unity following local authority interference in the organization’s recruitment procedures. The suspension of activities affected service delivery for an estimated 51,000 people in Unity’s Bentiu and Rubkona towns, the UN reports.

On November 22, RC/HC Noudéhou released a public statement expressing concern regarding recent increases in NGO registration and work permit fees. The GoRSS Ministry of Labor and Public Service recently increased annual work permit fees from nearly $100 to up to $4,000 for international staff. RC/HC Noudéhou acknowledged that while humanitarian agencies should respect and abide by South Sudanese laws, the increased fees will likely negatively affect the delivery of life-saving assistance to vulnerable populations across South Sudan. The UN and international donors continue to engage with GoRSS officials to ensure unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance, including through reduced NGO fees and elimination of other bureaucratic impediments. As of late November, the proposed fees remained under negotiation.

Relief actors reported 116 humanitarian access incidents countywide in October, representing a nearly 15 percent increase compared to the 101 incidents recorded in September. Of the incidents recorded in October, approximately 60 involved violence against humanitarian personnel or assets. Across South Sudan, at least 43 access incidents resulted in the relocation of more than 500 humanitarian staff between January and October, according to the UN.

A November FEWS NET analysis found that food security will likely deteriorate countrywide beginning in early 2018, following slight seasonal improvements in food security during October–December harvests. Overall, the 2018 lean season in South Sudan is expected to be more severe than 2017, as more than 6 million people will likely require emergency food assistance by May 2018. Given ongoing conflict, humanitarian access impediments, and extreme economic instability, Famine remains possible during 2018, even if current humanitarian funding levels persist, FEWS NET reports.

Recent food security assessments from the IPC Technical Working Group and FEWS NET identify Western Bahr el Ghazal State’s Greater Baggari area as a critical concern, citing insecurity, sporadic humanitarian access, limited freedom of movement, and loss of livelihoods as primary factors exacerbating severe food insecurity in the area. Approximately 25,000 people residing in Greater Baggari faced Catastrophe—IPC 5—levels of acute food insecurity in September, according to the IPC Technical Working Group.6 In response, relief organizations—including USG partners WFP, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and NGOs—provided emergency food assistance, specialized nutrition commodities, non-food emergency relief commodities, health care services, and WASH assistance to approximately 16,700 severely food-insecure people in Greater Baggari from November 22–24.

In October, USAID/OFDA partner Food for the Hungry assessed food security, protection, and WASH needs among vulnerable populations in Jonglei’s Fangak County and Upper Nile’s Ulang County. Individuals surveyed identified acute malnutrition as a key concern, as access to food remains challenging in assessed areas. Assessment findings indicated GAM levels of 29 percent in Fangak and 16 percent in Ulang, both of which exceed the UN World Health Organization emergency threshold of 15 percent.

USAID partner UNICEF supported nutrition screenings for approximately 144,500 children younger than five years of age in South Sudan during October, identifying approximately 24,400 moderate acute malnutrition cases and nearly 8,000 severe acute malnutrition (SAM) cases. During the month, UNICEF also conducted four rapid response missions in hard-to-access areas of Greater Baggari, Upper Nile’s Aburoc town, and Leer, screening approximately 5,800 children for acute malnutrition. After identifying acutely malnourished children, UNICEF either supported emergency nutrition interventions or referred the individuals for treatment at a nearby health facility. Overall, the UN agency treated approximately 161,500 children experiencing SAM between January and October.

Health organizations in South Sudan continue to deliver oral cholera vaccine doses in areas experiencing active cholera transmission and other high-risk locations, providing more than 1.1 million doses since January. During the week of November 13, NGO Médecins Sans Frontières conducted a two-day cholera vaccination campaign in Juba County’s New Bongo village in Central Equatoria State, reaching an estimated 10,600 people. Relief actors also established an oral rehydration point and repaired WASH infrastructure in the village. In addition, relief organizations completed a cholera vaccination campaign in Eastern Equatoria’s Budi County on November 24, reaching an estimated 150,000 people.

Active cholera transmission continues to decline across South Sudan, with health actors recording new suspected cholera cases in only two counties—Budi and Juba—since early November. In New Bongo, cholera transmission has declined following an initial spike in cases, which led to rapid health and WASH interventions, according to the national cholera task force. During the week of November 13, health actors recorded approximately eight new suspected cholera cases in New Bongo, representing an approximately 80 percent decline from the 40 suspected cases during the previous week. Health actors report that the number of suspected cholera cases has also declined in Budi, with only sporadic transmission reported in the county’s Kimotong, Lorema, and Ngauro areas in recent weeks.

As of November 26, health actors had recorded more than 21,500 suspected cholera cases, including 462 deaths, since the beginning of the outbreak in June 2016.

USAID/OFDA partner the International Organization for Migration (IOM) conducted a large-scale study of attitudes, knowledge, and practices related to gender-based violence (GBV) among IDPs, host community members, and other vulnerable populations in South Sudan. The study included data from more than 3,200 interviews with women, girls, and men in Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Unity, Upper Nile, Western Bahr el Ghazal, and Western Equatoria states. Assessment findings indicate that approximately 48 percent of female respondents reported that a woman or a girl in their household had experienced some form of GBV in the previous 12 months, according to IOM.

On November 13, the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands contributed $6 million to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to provide emergency assistance to food-insecure populations in South Sudan under FAO’s Emergency Livelihood and Resilience Program (ELRP). FAO expects the contribution to support deliveries of crop, fishing, and vegetable kits to nearly 4 million people in food-insecure areas of the country. The assistance will also fund livestock vaccination and treatment activities, targeting up to 7.4 million animals. International donors, including USAID/OFDA, had funded 28 percent of the ELRP as of mid-November.

The January 2005 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the southern-based SPLA officially ended more than two decades of north–south conflict during which famine, fighting, and disease killed an estimated 2 million people and displaced at least 4.5 million others within Sudan.

On December 15, 2013, clashes erupted in Juba between factions within the GoRSS and quickly spread into a protracted national conflict. On December 20, 2013, USAID activated a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to lead the USG response to the crisis in South Sudan. USAID also stood up a Washington, D.C.-based Response Management Team (RMT) to support the DART.

Fighting between SPLA and SPLA-IO forces broke out in Juba on July 7, 2016, displacing thousands of people and prompting the U.S. Embassy in Juba to order the departure of non-critical USG personnel from South Sudan on July 10. Although heightened tensions persist in South Sudan and the humanitarian situation remains precarious, the U.S. Department of State ended the ordered departure status on January 5, 2017.

On February 20, 2017, the IPC Technical Working Group declared Famine levels of food insecurity in Unity’s Leer and Mayendit counties. On June 21, 2017, the IPC Technical Working Group declared that sustained humanitarian interventions had moderately improved food security conditions in Leer and Mayendit, resulting in the removal of the Famine level designation for acute food insecurity in the counties. Life-threatening food insecurity continues to impact households across South Sudan.

On October 19, 2017, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Michael K. Morrow redeclared a disaster in South Sudan for FY 2018 due to ongoing violent conflict, population displacement, restricted humanitarian access, and disruption of trade, markets, and cultivation activities, all of which have significantly exacerbated food insecurity and humanitarian needs.

Last updated: December 05, 2017

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