In August 2015, South Sudan President Salva Kiir and the leader of the opposition Riek Machar signed a peace deal. The event, together with the reappointment of Riek Machar as the Vice President six months later, raised hopes for an end of the two-year civil war that had been ravaging the country.
However, one year on, South Sudan continues to see conflict in different parts of the country, with one of the worst outbreaks happening in Juba on the eve of the 5th independence anniversary, killing hundreds of people.
The renewed conflict has seen hundreds of thousands of people displaced and either living at the United Nations Protection of Civilian (PoC) sites or other internally displaced persons (IDP) settlements. Many have fled to neighbouring countries.
The humanitarian needs continue to increase. “Even before the violence broke out in July, South Sudan was already facing wide-spread food insecurity and malnutrition with a risk of famine growing in several parts of the country. As always, it is children who suffer most,” says Perry Mansfield, World Vision’s National Director for South Sudan.
According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) for the Republic of South Sudan released in June, the overall food security and nutrition situation has continued to worsen resulting in over 4.8 million people (about a third of the population) experiencing acute levels of hunger and malnutrition.
This is an increase of one million people overall and a 40 percent increase in number of children treated for severe malnutrition since the same period last year.
People are also suffering increased health challenges, and new cases of malaria are on the rise. According to OCHA reports, one million cases were reported by the end of July, a 40,000 increase from the 960,800 reported in the same period last year.
There is also an outbreak of cholera confirmed in the Equitorias and Greater Upper Nile regions of the country, with 883 cholera cases and 22 deaths reported.
Moreover, the worsening economic situation, which is linked to the conflict, is making it difficult for families to pay for basic needs such as food. In just one month, inflation has doubled from 309% to more than 600%.
With sporadic fighting across the country, many seek refuge at PoC sites.
“Life at the PoC is safer, but it is not good. There is no place to go and, as a South Sudanese, I live in constant fear of getting killed. I can’t move freely and the situation in the country is deteriorating on all levels,” says PoC resident Johnson.
Hope for the future
“The South Sudanese have great potential to improve their own lives. However, for this to happen, peace is the basic requirement and it is important for all stakeholders to support and contribute efforts towards a more peaceful environment from which individuals and communities can build trust and reconciliation in South Sudan,” says Mansfield.
“The people of South Sudan have shown great resilience in the midst of very difficult times and I am sure that with sustained peace, they are able to rise above the challenges they are facing,” he adds.
World Vision continues to provide life-saving assistance to vulnerable children and families in various parts of the country and since 2015, has reached over 1.3 South Sudanese, half of which are children. Immediately after the most recent violence, our response reached thousands of people by providing relief items such as blankets, sleeping mats, high energy biscuits and treatment for children with malnutrition.
World Vision’s key messages one year after the peace deal:
- Since the signing of the peace deal last August, UN figures have shown that the humanitarian situation in the country has worsened:
- The number of displaced people has risen from 2.2 million last year to 2.5 million this year – meaning an additional 300,000 people either fled their villages or the country.
- Hunger and malnutrition affect almost 5 million people in South Sudan – an additional one million compared to last year’s figures – the majority are children.
- Illnesses such as malaria and cholera have increased significantly since last year: 1 million cases of malaria were reported this year (an increase of 40,000 since last year), and cholera has spread across IDP sites, with 883 cases and 22 deaths reported this August.
- As fighting continues across the country, people in South Sudan have shown both resilience and strong determination to build up their young nation when given the right means. The country needs sustained peace to move forward.
- South Sudan’s worsening economy is a major threat to the people of South Sudan, who continue to suffer from an increasing inflation rate (currently at over 600%), empty markets and severe food shortage.
- Humanitarian operations in South Sudan continue to be hampered by a major funding shortfall, with the current appeal only funded at 41%.