Response to the crisis in South Sudan

A truck, packed with South Sudanese refugees leaves the Elegu border crossing for the transit centre. Photo: F. Niloy, UNHCR, January 2014

South Sudan became a nation on 9 July 2011 after a decades-long struggle for independence. However, the widespread optimism that defined the national mood on that day has now vanished. Unresolved political conflicts, ethnic and religious tensions erupted into widespread violence across the country in December 2013, which has continued unabated to this day.

The violence has now killed thousands of people and led to the destruction of critical infrastructure, homes, farms, and businesses, which will affect livelihoods and exacerbate poverty for years to come. Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable women and children are at risk of gender based and sexual violence. At present emergency humanitarian assistance is being provided to 1.2 million people, but because of fighting and inaccessible roads two million more who need help have been unable to receive it.


More than one million people have been forced from their homes, close to 300,000 of whom are now suffering in neighbouring countries, especially Ethiopia and Uganda – putting pressure on the resources of host communities and possibly generating future tensions.


At the same time, a possible famine waits in the wings to intensify the desperate situation. If displaced farmers are unable to return to their homes soon they will be unable to grow enough food to feed the nation, worsening reliance on emergency assistance. More than 3.7 million people will face acute food insecurity if the crisis is not resolved.


The fighting will have long-lasting consequences for the country, rolling back years of development achievements and a hard won peace, increasing poverty, as well as long-term insecurity and vulnerability to future shocks. The capacity of government institutions to provide basic services, such as education, food assistance, health care – including uninterrupted access to HIV/AIDS and TB treatment, protection, and water and sanitation programmes has been seriously undermined.

UNDP's work in South Sudan