The cumulative effects of years of conflict, violence and destroyed livelihoods have left more than 7 million people, approximately two thirds of the population, in dire need of humanitarian assistance and protection in 2019, the same proportion as in 2018. While the situation is no longer escalating rapidly, the country remains in the grip of a serious humanitarian crisis. Overall, the revitalized peace process promises to offer new opportunities in 2019 for South Sudan’s women, men and children.
In 2018, UNICEF in coordination with partners reached 205,641 children suffering from SAM, approximately 257,842 children with psychosocial support (PSS), 265,312 with WASH services and 1,653,640 children with curative health services.
Through national and state level task forces, UNICEF and partners continue to closely monitor the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), intensifying preventive and preparedness activities in targeted high-risk areas and potential points of entry.
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
In 2018, UNICEF and humanitarian partners continued to face restrictions on humanitarian access that limited and/or prevented life-saving assistance and services from reaching vulnerable children. Over the course of the year, UNICEF and partners faced at least 80 access incidents, which limited sustained access to an estimated 400,000 people mostly women and children, while according to OCHA, the humanitarian community at large faced over 800 access incidents.
Violence and intimidation against aid workers, ongoing armed hostilities and bureaucratic impediments were the main access challenges confronted by humanitarians in South Sudan in 2018. Over 50 per cent of all access incidents (442) involved violence against humanitarian personnel and assets, including killings, abductions, illegal detention and robberies along roads and within compounds. Bureaucratic impediments and operational interference also remain key challenges for predictable and efficient emergency programmes.
Despite the overall reduction in armed hostilities following the February 2018 Ceasefire Agreement and the 12 September signing of the Revitalized Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (RARCSS), armed clashes and insecurity continue to impede and prevent humanitarian operations specifically within Central Equatoria. In Central Equatoria, ongoing hostilities between the SSPDF and multiple non-state armed actors, attacks against civilians and robberies/abductions along main roads are impeding access to an estimated 200,000 people in the greater Yei area.
The 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview, published December 2018, illustrates that conflict and associated economic decline have eroded the Government’s ability to provide consistent basic services to its people. Currently, one primary health center serves an average of 50,000 people. Only 40 per cent of nutrition treatment centers have access to safe water, a gap that puts more vulnerable people, particularly women, boys and girls, at risk of malnutrition and disease.
Only about one in five childbirths involves a skilled health care worker and the maternal mortality ratio is estimated at 789 per 100,000 live births. Every third school has been damaged, destroyed, occupied or closed since 2013, and more than 70 per cent of children who should be attending classes are not receiving an education.
Through national and state level task forces, UNICEF and partners continue to closely monitor the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), intensifying preventive and preparedness activities in targeted high-risk areas and potential points of entry. Priority preparedness activities include surveillance, screening at points of entry, and capacity development on case management, safe and dignified burial, pre-positioning of supplies and risk communication to increase community awareness on EVD. Following a prioritization exercise on EVD preparedness on 17 November and feedback from the joint independent monitoring mission (15-19 November), UNICEF continued providing preparedness support, primarily on risk communication and WASH activities.