IOM, in partnership with key stakeholders and communities, will continue to support vulnerable people across South Sudan with essential life-saving assistance, whilst creating conducive environments for sustainable returns and recovery. IOM will adopt a community-driven approach to all programming, to facilitate transformative changes that address drivers of vulnerability and risk. Tackling these challenges means not only making a positive and lasting impact on the lives of South Sudanese affected by crises but also fulfilling the promises of the Peace Agreement, creating a base of support for its continued implementation and addressing potential drivers for future crises and humanitarian needs.
Protracted conflict in South Sudan has led to a perpetual state of humanitarian crisis. Although there has been a lull in large-scale hostilities since the signing of the Revitalized Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan in September 2018, localized violence has persisted in many pockets of the country. Inter-communal and live-stock related violence have been widespread, threatening to reverse some of the gains made throughout 2019.
The cumulative effects of the conflict continue to be deeply felt, with 7.5 million people considered to be in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Protection concerns have persisted, including gender-based violence. In August 2019, over half of the population were considered to be facing ‘Crisis’ levels or worse acute food insecurity (IPC Acute Food Security Snapshot, 11 September 2019). Over 2.2 million South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries, and an additional 1.4 million people are internally displaced, close to 200,000 of whom are sheltering in Protection of Civilian sites.
Although the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) has been slow, the peace deal creates some room for cautious optimism about an end to the conflict and violence, and over 500,000 people have returned to their homes since its signing. With some exceptions, the ceasefire has been tenuously holding in many parts of the country, enabling the emergence of areas of return and stability. While many individuals have returned to their areas of origin since the signing of the R-ARCSS in 2018, humanitarian needs for internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and host communities remain high in South Sudan.
Despite the hope instilled by the signing of R-ARCSS, the cumulative effects of years of conflict, violence, protracted and repeated displacement, layered on top of pre-existing development challenges, continue to impact South Sudanese throughout the country and abroad. This has translated into sustained poverty, periods of famine, persistent protection concerns, and a lack of livelihoods and access to basic services, with women and girls being disproportionately affected. In addition to psychological distress, people have lost key assets. Access to education has been interrupted, social networks deteriorated, housing and shelter damaged.
In this context, the drivers of crisis and barriers to recovery at a local and national level need to be addressed in order to build resilience, strengthen preparedness and reduce disaster risk across the country. However, transitioning out of the immediate, emergency phase of this crisis has revealed deeper and more complex impacts on the stability of affected areas. Years of conflict have weakened or eradicated the social, physical, political, cultural, economic and security structures required for societies and communities to function, impeding opportunities for sustainable recovery and increasing the likelihood of repeated crisis and insecurity. Recognising these challenges, IOM seeks to support South Sudanese in facilitating transformative change that addresses the drivers of vulnerability and risk through targeted support to strengthen preparedness and reduce disaster risk.
For all regional Ebola-related activities, please see IOM's Ebola Virus Disease - Regional Emergency Health Response Plan 2020-2022.