- UNICEF in collaboration with UNMISS and the National Disarmament,
Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Commission, successfully released 121 children associated with armed groups (49 girls; 72 boys) on 12 February. Based on the registration exercise of the Country Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR), around 200 children are to be released in and around Nzara, Yambio town, Lirangu and James Diko town and another 100 from Unity state by end of July 2019.
The Back to Learning campaign for 2019 was officially launched in Renk, Upper Nile, on 04 February and mobilized communities around the importance of child enrolment. UNICEF supported the Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI) in organizing the event which included performances of song, dance and poetry by children from local schools as well as speeches by the Minister, State Governor and State Minister for Education, UNICEF’s Representative and a member of the Education Donors’ Group.
Situation in Numbers
Internally displaced persons (IDPs)
(OCHA South Sudan Humanitarian Snapshot, February 2019)
South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries
(UNHCR Regional Portal, South Sudan Situation 28 February 2019)
South Sudanese who are severely food insecure
(January-March 2019 Projection, Integrated Food Security Phase Classification)
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
In February, UNICEF and its partners experienced both improvements and challenges in maintaining secure and predictable humanitarian access to women and children in various parts of the country. After fighting in earlier and mid 2018 in Unity, Jonglei and Western Bahr el Ghazal, state-level meetings between the SSPDF and pro-Machar SPLAiO have led to a temporary decrease in hostilities, which has expanded access in several states for UNICEF and its partners.
Road and river movements have improved in Jonglei and Upper Nile, facilitating UNICEF’s dry season prepositioning and delivery of IRRM supplies. UNICEF and partners continue to have predictable access to Greater Baggari, where an estimated 20,000 were recently displaced in the bush due to hostilities in the area. The force protection requirement has also been lifted from Wau to Raja and Wau to Yambio, easing the ability of UN humanitarian actors to respond in these areas. On the other hand, fighting continues in parts of Central and Western Equatoria between armed forces signed on to the R-ARCSS, and non-signatories from the South Sudan National Democratic Alliance (SSNDA). Fighting in Yei, Morobo, Lanya and Mukaya counties has displaced thousands of people and is limiting access to an estimated 15,000 people outside of Yei. This fighting is also hindering UNICEF’s ability to prepare frontline health facilities for potential Ebola cases and risk communication in the area.
UNICEF and partners also faced several restrictions of movement. An inter-agency assessment team was denied access to Lasu (Morobo County) by the SSPDF, preventing the verification of potential refugee returnees. In Raja, state security forces attempted to prevent an UNICEF-led inter-agency emergency response to Dolo, though the mission proceeded after successful access negotiations by UNICEF. An inter-agency assessment mission in Mundri East and West was also suspended at the suggestion of the National Salvation Front, who is present in the area.
Non-state civilian authorities under the pro-Machar SPLA-iO in Jonglei and Upper Nile also continue to impose excessive bureaucratic restrictions and interfere with operations. In Fangak, authorities continue to insist on direct payment of Personal Income Tax (PIT) on national staff despite these taxes having already been paid at the national level. Cattle raiding in Jonglei, Unity and Warrap –continues to negatively impact on access to vulnerable populations.
Looking forward, the trajectory of implementing the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) over the coming months will have a significant impact on humanitarian access, especially access to women and children. If security continues to improve with the relatively successful implementation of the peace agreement, there is likely to be a further increase in refugee returnees. If not managed and supported effectively, this could lead to inter-communal or inter-ethnic tensions that could hinder access to assist with their resettlement. On the other hand, continued delays or the failure to implement key provisions of the agreement will likely lead to the continuation and or renewed hostilities in several parts of the country, which would have a disproportionate impact on women and children, who are already the most vulnerable and with limited resilience to further violence.
The ongoing fighting in parts of Central and Western Equatoria is likely to continue, limiting access for both UNICEF’s regular programmes and Ebola preparedness activities. Local disagreements over peace implementation are beginning to emerge, particularly in Western Equatoria, Western Bahr el Ghazal and Unity, which could also lead to the renewal of conflict and limited access.
The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis report conducted in January and February 2019 was released by the Government of South Sudan on 22 February. The report highlights that between February and April 2019, in the presence of humanitarian assistance, about 6.5 million people (57 per cent of the total population) are projected to be severely food insecure (IPC Phase 3 and above) out of which 45,000 are in Humanitarian Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Comparing this projection to the same provided for 2018, the number of South Sudanese in IPC Phase 3 and above has increased 26 per cent in 2019. The food security situation in the country continues to deteriorate due to the cumulative effect of conflict-driven displacement, low crop production, economic crisis, climatic shocks and humanitarian access challenges.