Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan

Crisis in South Sudan

Half the country’s population faces extreme hunger

A humanitarian emergency

6 million people are in dire need of assistance


About the crisis in South Sudan

South Sudan has been a country in turmoil for a long time. In 1983, after a decade-long pause in the country's long civil war between the north and south, conflict broke out again. It wasn't until early 2005 - after more than 1.5 million people had died - that a peace agreement was signed between the two sides. The agreement led to the historic vote that created the Republic of South Sudan on July 9, 2011.

From the start, South Sudan was one of the poorest countries in the world. Most of the fledgling nation is in the grip of a humanitarian crisis fueled by years of chronic underdevelopment, conflict and natural disasters.

Years of brutal civil war has contributed to an economic crisis and below average harvest that continues to send food prices skyrocketing. The result has been a food crisis that continues to spread throughout the country. According to an early warning report, there are new areas of South Sudan reaching emergency levels of food crisis, which is just one level above famine. These are areas where people have been recently displaced because of outbreaks of the conflict that drove them off their land leaving them with no access to food and their agricultural livelihoods. For example in Jonglei State, there have been 200,000 people displaced.

1.7 million people are on the brink of famine and 7.1 million face extreme hunger in South Sudan. That is half population – the highest number ever recorded in the country. 1 million children under the age of five are severely malnourished.

What CARE is doing

CARE South Sudan is implementing emergency response programs in Unity, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei and Upper Nile Regions. The country office is planning to increase the funding target to address the growing needs. CARE has reached 356,000 beneficiaries through food security, livelihoods, nutrition, health and Gender/GBV interventions.

CARE Sudan has been responding to an influx of refugees for a couple years through a small-scale response in South Kordofan in 2014 until the end of 2016, when the refugee influx increased. CARE is currently providing critical, lifesaving support and building the resilience of refugees and vulnerable host communities in East and South Darfur and South Kordofan

CARE has been working in the region since 1993, providing health services, improving access to clean water and sanitation, mitigating the effects of droughts and helping with peace-building efforts. CARE is providing assistance in health and nutrition for mothers and children under five years old, food and livelihoods assistance, peace building and sexual and physical violence prevention across four states including some of the worst affected by conflict. Since the conflict began in December 2013, more than 4 million South Sudanese have fled their homes. Nearly 90 per cent of the forcibly displaced are women and children and nearly 65 per cent are under 18. CARE has distributed more than $13 million worth of food assistance to more than half a million people in Unity, Jonglei, Upper Nile and Eastern Equatorial states in the past 12 months.

CARE is providing critical, lifesaving support and building the resilience of IDPs, refugees and vulnerable host communities. Priority sectors are WASH, Health, Nutrition and Food Security and Livelihoods. The Country Office has now stepped up to meet the needs of the South Sudanese Refugees influx that has occurred over the last six months through WASH as the main priority sector. These activities currently reach over 443,092 IDPs, Refugees and Host Communities.

88% of refugees and people on the run are women and children. They are at extreme risk and CARE is working to bulk up its protection programming to help these extremely vulnerable people.

More funds are needed to help host communities, as there assistance and protection of refugees and displaced persons is critical to all basic services. 

Acute malnutrition in children under the age of 5 is above emergency thresholds in different areas across the country. According to the 2017 Humanitarian Needs Overview, 4.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance including 3.6 million in need of food and livelihood assistance, living at crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity.

The pressing humanitarian needs are exacerbated by the influx of South Sudanese Refugees fleeing war and acute food insecurity in South Sudan. According to UNHCR, 410,354 South Sudanese refugees have fled to Sudan during the period December 2013 – 15 July 2017, with more than 160,000 South Sudanese arriving to various locations, including Darfur, South Kordofan and White Nile states since January 2017.

Learn more about the Global Hunger Crisis.

*Updated February 2018

South Sudan Emergency - Fleeing Famine

A Country in Severe Crisis

Hunger is forcing hundreds of thousands to flee

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9-month-old Chiok Kuol Kaang was admitted to the MSF health centre on February 28 2017 for severe malnutrition after arriving the day before in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians (POC) site from Koch county, Unity State.

South Sudan Emergency - Food Insecurity

Alarming levels of food insecurity

6 million face extreme hunger in South Sudan

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Five year old Chianyal has been living in the UN Mission in South Sudan’s ‘Protection of Civilians’ (POC) site since November 2015.

South Sudan Emergency - Malnourished Children

1 million malnourished children

Mothers fend for their families’ survival

South Sudan Emergency - Tepitha and Martha

Meet Tepitha and Martha

Two mothers facing starvation and conflict fight for survival 

How CARE works in emergencies


In 2011 alone, CARE reached 12 million people affected by natural disasters, conflict situations and other crises.


In emergencies, CARE is among the first to arrive and the last to leave. When it comes to responding to an emergency, timing is crucial.