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About South Sudan

South Sudan Civil War

The South Sudanese Civil War is a conflict in South Sudan between forces of the government and opposition forces which started in December 2013 when fighting broke out between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and SPLM-IO, igniting the civil war. In January 2014 the first ceasefire agreement was reached. Fighting continued and would be followed by several more ceasefire agreements. Negotiations were mediated by "IGAD +" (which includes the eight regional nations called the Intergovernmental Authority on Development as well as the African Union, United Nations, China, the EU, USA, UK and Norway). A peace agreement known as the "Compromise Peace Agreement" was signed in August 2015. Although both men have supporters from across South Sudan's ethnic divides, subsequent fighting has had ethnic undertones. More than 3.5 million people have been displaced in a country of about 12 million, with more than 2.1 million internally displaced and more than 1.5 million having fled to neighboring countries, especially Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda. Fighting in the agricultural heart in the south of the country has soared the number of people facing starvation to 6 million with famine breaking out in some areas. The country’s economy has also been devastated.

Across South Sudan, it is estimated that some 9.4 million people, approximately 2/3 of the population need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2023 (European Commission march 2023) because of multiple and deepening crises, including conflict, inter-communal violence, economic decline, disease including COVID-19, and climatic shocks including flooding and draught which have led to displacement, distress, destitution and death. In addition to armed conflict, communities are struggling with inter-communal violence, including because of cattle raiding.

Protection and Peace Building

Due to the continued conflicts (Inter-communal conflicts, resource based conflicts and rebel groups), natural disasters (floods, draught and diseases) and economic crisis, violence against civilians especially women and girls continue to be widely reported. Throughout displacement, women and girls are at heightened risk of attack and exposed to significant levels of sexual violence, particularly when collecting firewoods and food, even near the Protection of Civilians (PoCs) sites which have since 2022 been downgraded to IDP camps. Sexual and gender-based violence have grave impacts on victims and survivors, including death, physical injury, disability, psychological trauma, unwanted pregnancy and social rejection, sexually transmitted infections, while child marriage can have severe consequences, including discontinuation of education, psychological distress, obstructed labour and obstetric fistula. The impact of such violence is further compounded by lack of access to appropriate healthcare, including clinical management of rape, as well as a lack of redress and access to justice.


Around one in four people in South Sudan have been forced to flee their homes, including more than 1.3 million people who fled to neighboring countries as refugees and nearly 1.9 million people who are internally displaced, the majority of whom are children. The number of people displaced by the conflict escalated dramatically following the relapse of conflict on 8th July 2016 in Juba. Thousands of people fled South Sudan every day to seek refuge in neighboring countries. In October, an average of 3,500 South Sudanese crossed out of South Sudan daily predominantly to Uganda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Ethiopia, with smaller numbers to Sudan and Kenya. Over 85 per cent of the refugees that were arriving in neighboring countries were women and children. The biggest outflow was into Uganda, with around 2,400 new arrivals each day in October 2016, the majority of whom were fleeing from the Greater Equatoria region. Children, the elderly, people with disabilities and people living with HIV/AIDS have been particularly vulnerable during displacement. The displacement drivers are not only conflict related but also flooding and draught in some parts of the country especially the greater upper Nile have caused massive displacements. The displaced populations have not been returning to their original homes due to fear of new conflicts. This has been exacerbated by perennial flooding that has been persistent for the past 4 years especially in the greater Upper Nile region.


According to UNICEF, UNOCHA, IOM and UNHCR April 2017 report, more than 1.17 million children aged 3 to 18 years old lost access to education due to conflict and displacement since December 2013. This situation has been exacerbated by perennial flooding that has been experienced from 2018 due to higher than normal rainfall experienced in most parts of the country.

The flooding has not only displaced people but also destroyed infrastructure like schools and health facilities among other social amenities. About 31 per cent of schools open have suffered at least one or more attacks by armed groups. This has overwhelmingly been the case in Greater Upper Nile, specifically in urban areas. More than 17,000 children, primarily boys are estimated to have been recruited and are being used as child soldiers although through the DDR some children have been demobilized and reintegrated. Thousands of children have been registered as unaccompanied, separated or missing.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that child marriage is increasing due to conflict and economic pressures. Many years of war have taken a major psychological toll on the population. An estimated 1 million children are believed to be in psychosocial distress, and a 2016 report by Amnesty International found that IDPs described experiencing a range of symptoms commonly associated with mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

According to Human Rights Watch World Report 2017, Since the start of the conflict almost 2 million people have been internally displaced, and another 2 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries, with more than 1 million in Uganda alone. More than 230,000 people are sheltering in six United Nations bases in towns across the country. Famine was declared in conflict-affected areas in the former Unity state in the first half of the year.

South Sudan Humanitarian Needs

According to UNOCHA’s quarterly Humanitarian Situation Report of December 2022, UNICEF, WHO, WFP and partners were responding to mainly three new emergencies related to the high rates of malnutrition in newly accessible areas, the Acute Watery Diarrhoea outbreak and the high influx of South Sudanese refugees. Also, the year marked a huge step forward in protecting children from violence in armed conflict by implementing the Action Plan signed between UN and the government. In some of the newly accessible areas in South Sudan, UNICEF, WFP, WHO and its frontline partners led an integrated response namely a ‘Find & Treat’ campaign with four rounds to deliver a package of life-saving services. During the campaign, 183,346 children were screened, and 3,619 children were identified as suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

Together with the State Ministries of Health, WHO, UNICEF, WFP and other partners deployed integrated interventions. UNICEF and WFP jointly supported 309 oral rehydration treatment corners (ORTCs) in total that served around 46,350 people to date, as well as WASH interventions that reached to more than two million people (including around one million children) on monthly average across all the ten (10) States and three (3) Administrative Areas of South Sudan.

An estimated 9.4 million people in South Sudan including 2.2 million women, 4.9 million children and 337,000 refugees are projected to be need of humanitarian assistance and protection services in 2023 – 2024 reflecting a 76% of the country’s population and a 5% increase from 2022.

There are humanitarian needs across South Sudan, because of multiple and interlocking threats, including armed conflict and inter-communal violence, economic decline, disease, and climatic shocks. In addition to the conflict, communities are struggling with inter-communal violence, including cattle raiding. The population is uprooted. More than 2.3 million people – one in every five people in South Sudan - have been forced to flee their homes since the conflict began, including 1.66 million internally displaced people (with 53.4% per cent estimated to be children) and nearly 644,900 refugees in neighboring countries. Some 185,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) sought refuge in UN Protection of Civilians (PoCs) sites (now IDP camps), while around 90 per cent of IDPs are on the run or sheltering outside PoC sites. Due to the fluidity of displacement, it is difficult to determine the number of IDP returnees. The down grading of PoCs to IDP Camps has caused untold magnitude of lack of basic services in the camps. The country is one of the most logistically challenging places in the world and has one of the most underdeveloped communications technology infrastructures.

The severely under developed and under maintained roads makes 60 per cent of the country inaccessible by roads during the rainy season (June – November yearly). Prior to the conflict, healthcare was extremely difficult to access with an estimated 0.15 doctors per 10,000 patients and 0.2 midwives/nurses per 10,000 people. The rising cost of living and impact of the conflict have undermined people’s ability to access safe water, including due to the destruction of water points.


South Sudan Infrastructure

Infrastructure losses are extensive. South Sudan is one of the most logistically challenging places in the world and has one of the most underdeveloped communications technology infrastructures. The severely under developed and under maintained roads makes more than 60% (per cent) of the country inaccessible by road during the long rainy season. The severely under-developed and under-maintained roads have continued to deteriorate over the past year. Some 70% per cent of the country becomes inaccessible by road during the rainy season, which usually lasts from May to January. In a country of approximately 650,000 km squared there are few sealed roads making supply chains very difficult. Most river ports are in poor condition, resulting in significant delays in loading and offloading. Many ports do not have the heavy equipment required to offload heavy/bulky items. River transport has become very expensive because of the may extorting check points along the rivers.


The underdeveloped infrastructure, lack of road maintenance, long rainy season, and disruption of key road routes due to conflict have left the humanitarian community with limited options to deliver life-saving supplies to people in dire need around the country, particularly in hard-to-reach areas. Prepositioning in deep field locations continues to be minimal for many organizations due to insecurity and the risk of having supplies looted. This problem is exacerbated by lack of power for preserving medical supplies and foodstuffs that need refrigeration


Prior to the conflict, healthcare was extremely difficult to access in South Sudan, with an estimated 0.15 doctors per 10,000 patients and 0.2 midwives/nurses per 10,000 people. As of September 2015, some 55 per cent of the health facilities in Unity State, Upper Nile State and Jonglei were no longer functioning. The rising cost of living and impact of the conflict have undermined people’s ability to access safe water, including due to the destruction of water points. Some parts of the country land is contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordinances.

The current States of South Sudan, 2020

South Sudan as of July 2020 is having 10 states. The following are the names of the states and their corresponding capitals;

Central Equatoria, Juba

Eastern Equatoria, Torit

Jonglei State, Bor

Upper Nile State, Malakal

Western Bahr El Ghazal, Wau

Lakes State, Rumbek

Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Aweil

Unity State, Bentiu

Warrap State, Kuajok

Western Equatoria, Yambio

South Sudan map

Development in South Sudan

Development in South Sudan was and is still seen as key to the:

improvement of livelihoods amongst communities that have been engaged in more than 30 years of civil wars. With a population of about 12 million people, South Sudan remains one of the least developed nations in the world with no or few infrastructures such as roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and accommodation; exposing the majority of the population to low standards of living and livelihoods. In South Sudan, the memories of crimes committed during the years of civil wars are still fresh. These bitter memories were worsened by the December 15, 2013 incident that claimed ten of thousands of lives and displaced over 2 million people and forced over 500,000 people into refugees in East African countries (Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda).


The recently signed 2015 “Compromise Peace Agreement – CPA-II” raised hope for a possible reconciliation between the communities and the warring parties are expected to open up wider and conducive political space for increased citizen participation in decision-making mechanism, justice, rule of law and development.


Key facts on South Sudan

  1. The total population of about 12 millions people

  2. 51% of the population live below the poverty line

  3. 25% of people are estimated to have access to health services

  4. 50.8% of the country population is classified as malnourished

  5. 27% of adults are literate; net attendance rates in schools is 40%

  6. 16% of women are literate

  7. 42% of civil servants have no more than primary school education

  8. 80% of South Sudanese use customary rather than formal justice mechanisms

  9. The total fertility rate is estimated at 6.7%;

  10.  The annual population growth rate is 2.2%, and the average life expectancy is 42 years of age.

South Sudan’s developmental & infrastructural background

South Sudan has the dubious distinction of having some of the worst development indicators in the world. It needs basic development in all aspects including physical infrastructures, health, food, security, stability, shelter and technology.


Inaccessibility of conflict-affected areas is quite a challenge. Thus there is all the more need to fast-track operations from emergency to recovery; from relief and finally development. The need for demining explosive remnants of conflict that contaminate roads, towns, and agricultural areas is paramount. The population needs to be equipped to participate in nation rebuilding to control environmental factors caused by flooding during wet seasons and loss of livestock and hunger gap during the dry season. In a state of conflict, complex protocols are required for relief and humanitarian access to civilians in need. The logistical environment is very difficult with an urgent need for infrastructure upgrades. Improvements in road access during the dry season risk being offset by increasing insecurity and checkpoints.

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