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.

5.3 million people in South Sudan—half of the population— are in urgent need of food aid. The numbers are projected to increase to 7.1 million in April when the country hits the peak of the lean period between May and July. In the last harvest season, the country had a cereal deficit of 532420 tons, which is 40 percent less of the national requirement. About 1.3 million children under five are expected to be malnourished.

South Sudan is going through the worst patch of food insecurity in the history of the country. By July, it is anticipated that more than half of the population will be at risk of starvation as food insecurity situation is set to worsen. Malnutrition rates of children under the age of five will also increase due to unprecedented levels of food insecurity, outbreaks of diseases such as diarrhea and poor infant and feeding practices. The priority needs for the people of South Sudan are food assistance for more than half the population, and medical services, especially for children suffering from malaria and malnutrition. For the displaced population, the priority is protection from sexual and physical violence, including the need for safe spaces for children, women and vulnerable people, and psychosocial counselling for trauma, among other needs.


What CARE is doing

CARE has been working in the region since 1993. CARE is currently supporting affected populations with emergency food assistance, providing access for women and children to primary health care, responding and preventing gender based violence and developing peacefully co-existent communities. The food packages consist of sorghum, lentils and cooking oil while health interventions focus on access, awareness and availability of drugs for the affected communities. In protection, CARE is supporting communities to re-build community based institutions to prevent gender based violence and linking survivors with health facilities and counsellors for treatment and counselling respectively. Since the conflict began in December 2013, more than 4 million South Sudanese have fled their homes.

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 their assistance and protection of refugees and displaced persons is critical to all basic services.

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 April 2018

South Sudan Emergency - Fleeing Famine

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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

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Meet Tepitha and Martha

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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.