- On 03 May, leadership of the parties to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) unanimously agreed to extend the Pre-Transitional period by six months after its original date of conclusion on 12 May 2019 to create more time to complete ongoing and pending tasks yet to be completed during the original Pre-Transitional period.
The second round of the national Polio immunization campaign was implemented from 30 April to 06 May, targeting 3,158,099 children, the administration data showed that 3,232,687 children were vaccinated, the post campaign evaluation survey coverage is 91 per cent.
As of January 2019, a total of 2,732,892 children 6-59 months were reached with vitamin A, surpassing the 2019 target. A similar coverage of 100 per cent of the annual target was also achieved for deworming of children 12-59 months with 2,237,249 children reached.
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
According to the January 2019 integrated food security phase classification (IPC) projections for May to July 2019, the total number of people in crisis (IPC phase 3) acute food insecurity or worse is projected to 6.87 million people or 60 per cent of the population with an estimated 50,000 people in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). In 2019, about 860,000 children under five are estimated to be acutely malnourished including 259,000 of severe acute malnutrition (SAM).
To reach 2019 targets and to be ready to respond for the first quarter 2020, UNICEF Nutrition Programme needs to mobilize US$ 42 million before September 2019 for procurement of Ready-To-Use Therapeutic food (RUTF) and frontline cost of the programme. There is risk for RUTF pipeline break during the last quarter of 2019 or early 2020, if UNICEF fails to mobilize adequate resources before September 2019; highlighting the urgent need for donor support to avoid a pipeline break for life saving nutrition interventions.
In May, UNICEF and partners have faced an increasing number of challenges with bureaucratic impediments, operational interference and access restrictions for the delivery of humanitarian services. In April, the Ministry of Health introduced a new harmonized incentive scale to create consistency and equity across different cadres of health workers. While the new incentive scale has increased incentives for some workers and expanded the number of health facility staff receiving incentives, some have seen their incentives decrease. In many cases, those who have seen their incentives decrease have initiated strikes, leading to the closure of the health facilities and a lack of health services to the population. While the number of health facilities closed has fluctuated (with some returning to work and others starting to strike), at its peak, 75 health facilities supported by UNICEF in Jongeli and Upper Nile were closed due to the strike. By the end of the month, 35 health facilities are closed, limiting health services to almost 1 million people.
UNICEF, together with the health cluster, donors, state and opposition authorities, are engaging with health facility staff to have them return to work pending further discussions on the new incentives and the regularization of salaries for all health workers.
State and non-state civilian authorities, as well as local youth groups, are increasing the number of bureaucratic impediments placed on humanitarian actors and attempting to interfere in operational decisions by humanitarian actors. In Malakal, state authorities have increased the rate of different airport fees, increasing the costs for UNICEF and partners to operate in Upper Nile. Similarly, opposition authorities in Tonga have requested visiting humanitarian actors to stay at pre-designated hotels rather than humanitarian compounds, and demanded hiring be done locally rather than bringing national staff from other parts of the country. Similarly, in Pibor (Jongeli) and Yambio (Western Equatoria), youth groups have sent threatening letters demanding national staff from Juba be replaced with staff from the local population. UNICEF and the NGO Forum are working to address these impediments together with national state and opposition authorities to ensure operational independence.
While physical access in much of the country remains possible due to the decrease in both armed hostilities and active denials of access for UNICEF and partners, violence in several parts of the country are limiting humanitarian operations.
In southern Central Equatoria, sporadic fighting between the South Sudan Peoples Defense Force (SSPDF – formerly the SPLA) and the National Salvation Front (NAS – a non-signatory to the peace agreement) continues to impede both regular humanitarian activities and EVD preparedness efforts outside of Yei town. However, UNICEF and OCHA continue to negotiate access with all parties to conflict and are gradually expanding operations in new areas outside of Yei. In Warrap, a dramatic increase in inter-communal clashes has led to restrictions on many key transport routes around Rumbek, hindering the movement of humanitarian cargo and programme activities.