Response to the crisis in South Sudan
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 (February 2017), there are 1.6 million South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries, and close to 300,000 refugees within South Sudan itself, in addition to 1.9 million internally displaced people.
At the same time, famine has been officially declared in parts of the country. Close to 5 million people (42% of the population) is currently severely food insecure, with estimates of that number jumping to 5.5 million by July 2017. 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.
Continued fighting is hampering access by humanitatian actors and 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.
UNDP’s support continues to focus on security and justice, delivery of basic services, and peace-building. In 2016, this included the establishment of seven Justice and Confidence Centers, through which legal services and advice were provided to around 70,000 people; a public outreach programme to combat ethnic polarization which reached over six million people; and peace mediation conferences, which led to ten community level peace agreements.
As part of its work as Principal Recipient of the Global Fund in South Sudan, UNDP is involved in broader efforts on health system strengthening. Specifically, UNDP helped to strengthen the capacity of the government to deliver maternal health services, benefiting close to 450,000 women. As a result, ante-natal care coverage increased from 53 per cent in 2015 to 61 per cent in 2016. This is an important achievement in a country where a woman has a one in seven chance of dying in childbirth.