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South Sudan: 2018 Humanitarian Response in Review

Over the course of 2018, the conflict in South Sudan continued to destroy homes, disrupt lives and ruin livelihoods. Nearly 1.9 million people were internally displaced within the country at the end of the year, while another 2.3 million people were seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. The signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan in September promised to offer new opportunities for women, men and children. However, in the last three months of 2018, the humanitarian crisis continued to impact South Sudan’s people.

Food insecurity and malnutrition reached unparalleled levels. Between July and August, conflict throughout the annual lean season pushed a record high of 6.1 million people – nearly two thirds of the population – to be severely food insecure. That included 1.7 million people on the brink of famine. Large-scale humanitarian assistance provided in many areas of the country, including Rubkona, Mayendit and Panyijar in Unity, was the only factor that prevented an even more devastating outcome.

During 2018, humanitarian organizations worked together to better understand people’s needs and provide the right services at the right time. Efforts included enhanced population tracking and increased use of technologies like a biometric registration system. The opening of more viable delivery routes, including roads and rivers, such as the Sobat river corridor, helped humanitarians to reach more people more efficiently. This saved millions by reducing reliance on expensive airdrops.

Fifteen aid workers were killed in 2018, resulting in a total of at least 112 aid workers killed since the start of the conflict in 2013. The vast majority of them were South Sudanese. At least 117 staff were detained for prolonged periods, with the majority working for local NGOs. Over 575 staff were relocated due to insecurity. This resulted in the temporary suspension of operations, sometimes for months, as was the case in Maban. In addition to violent access incidents, operational interference and bureaucratic impediments hampered humanitarian efforts.

Humanitarian organizations delivered assistance and protection to more than 5.3 million people in 2018. This included over 4.2 million people reached by food assistance and emergency livelihoods support; more than 2 million people provided with access to improved water sources; over 690,000 children given access to education in emergencies; and nearly 4 million people who received humanitarian protection services.

The 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan was 68 per cent funded, with US$1.17 billion received. Clusters including Health; Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Items; and Camp Coordination and Camp Management were significantly under-funded.

Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Original Publication Date: 
01 Mar 2019
Document type: 
Humanitarian Programme Cycle
South Sudan