• In 2019, unprecedented flooding washed away crops, destroyed homes and contaminated water supplies impacting over 900,000 people, of which 490,000 were children. UNICEF has reached over 110,000 people with critical and lifesaving Health, Nutrition, WASH, Education, Child Protection and communication for development services in four flood affected States.
•In collaboration with UNMISS and the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Commission, in 2019 UNICEF South Sudan supported the release of 303 children associated with armed groups, enrolling them in reintegration programmes.
•UNICEF and partners, including government authorities, worked to ensure the 2019 South Sudan Certificate of Primary Education exams were successfully delivered to 55,193 children across South Sudan, including in areas controlled by forces in opposition to government and in flood affected areas. In Upper Nile alone, 3,169 children completed the primary examinations for the first time since 2012.
Situation in Numbers
Internally displaced persons (IDPs)
(OCHA South Sudan Humanitarian Snapshot, September 2019) 2.24 million
South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries
(UNHCR Regional Portal, South Sudan Situation 30 September 2019)
South Sudanese facing acute food insecurity or worse
(August 2019 Projection, Integrated Food Security Phase Classification)
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
In 2019 South Sudan remained an extremely complex and difficult context to deliver results for children. While a significant decrease in armed hostilities compared to previous years has led to certain improvements in humanitarian access, an array of constraints continue to hinder secure, predictable and principled humanitarian access to and for vulnerable women and children.
In September 2018, the main parties to conflict signed the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS). This led to a significant reduction in armed conflict in the country and fewer active restrictions of movement in 2019. This has improved secure and predictable access to previously hard-to-reach areas, including lower Unity, Upper Jonglei, and parts of Upper Nile, Western Bahr el Ghazal and Western Equatoria. Critical riverways have been opened for the movement of humanitarian staff and supplies and obstructions at checkpoints on main supply routes have been eased. This has increased the efficiency and reduced the cost of delivering humanitarian assistance and services, which previously were often dependent on expensive air operations.
At the same time, UNICEF’s programmes remain obstructed by a range of ongoing access restrictions. In 2019, UNICEF and partners reported 234 incidents affecting access, hindering our ability to provide lifesaving assistance to an estimated 4.8 million people, 2.4 million of them children. Armed hostilities have continued sporadically throughout the year in southern Central Equatoria between the government and the National Salvation Front (NAS - a non-signatory to the R-ARCSS). This has resulted in forced displacement, increased humanitarian needs, and grave protection concerns while also preventing or delaying UNICEF’s and partners’ ability to address the needs of vulnerable women and children. It has also hampered preparedness efforts against the outbreak of the Ebola virus in South Sudan in one of the priority areas bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In September 2019, fighting also erupted in Maiwut in Upper Nile also causing large-scale displacement and needs while constraining UNICEF’s and partners’ ability to respond.
Floods are a chronic and acute problem in South Sudan exacerbating needs in areas where populations are affected by multiple concurrent shocks. Seasonal flooding during rainy season in South Sudan is a fact of life for many communities. In 2019, however, unprecedented flooding has washed away crops, destroyed homes, contaminated water sources and cut off or constrained access to critical basic services in some parts of the country impacting over 900,000 people, of which 490,000 were children. Impacts to women and children include loss of productive assets and increased malaria cases in areas already experiencing conflict, displacement, food insecurity and disease outbreaks and weakening household resilience.
According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), the year 2019 has continued to experience high food insecurity with an estimated 6.35 million people (54 per cent of the population) classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity, among whom an estimated 1.7 million people faced Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity and 10,000 people in Catastrophe (IPC phase 5) at the peak lean season. Furthermore, the prevalence of acute malnutrition has deteriorated significantly from 13.3 per cent in 2018 to 16.2 per cent in 2019, which was above the 15 per cent emergency threshold. With the deterioration of the nutrition situation, it is projected that over 1.3 million children under five years will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2020 including close to 292,000 from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). This is attributed to high food insecurity, poor quality and diversity of food, high morbidity (mainly malaria) and diarrheal infections.
As of 31 December, a total of 4,325 suspected measles cases and 30 deaths (Case Fatality Rate - 0.7 per cent) were reported, with 215 confirmed IgM positive cases in 22 counties and four Protection of Civilian sites (PoCs). There has been a resurgence of Guinea Worm disease with 15 cases confirmed in 2019.