About the Crisis in South Sudan
Right now, South Sudan faces the most challenging period since it gained independence a decade ago, with a converging set of crises including its highest-ever levels of food insecurity, repeated floods, armed conflict and a renewed wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has increased 10% since last year, to 8.3 million – more than 70% of the population. Over 60% of the population is projected to face crisis or worse levels of food insecurity. The coming “lean season” – from April to July, when households typically run out of stored food while awaiting the next harvest – threatens to be catastrophic. Communities in six of South Sudan’s 79 counties could face famine-like conditions.
Meanwhile, violence between armed groups is creating new waves of internally displaced people (IDP), adding to an IDP population already estimated at more than 1.6 million – not counting an additional 2.3 million who have fled South Sudan. For women and girls who are disproportionately affected by food scarcity and already subject to widespread gender-based violence, it also means facing even greater risks of abuse, exploitation, including sexual violence and early and forced marriages.
Compounding these issues, a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping across South Sudan. While it is difficult to know the true number of cases or fatalities, there are anecdotal reports of a heavy death toll and the rate of positive COVID-19 tests jumped from 2.7% to 17.9% in the first six weeks of 2021. Displaced people, particularly in overcrowded camps, face elevated risks of contracting the virus.