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South Sudan faces 'worst food crisis in the world'

August 2014

The UN Security Council has warned that the food crisis in South Sudan is now ‘the worst in the world’ and that the ‘catastrophic’ situation could soon tip over into famine.

According to UN children’s agency UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP), nearly one million children aged under five face acute malnutrition.

Unless swift action is taken, 50,000 children could die from malnutrition this year, the agencies warn.

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Since the fighting erupted in December last year, 1.5 million people have fled their homes. It is estimated that well over 10,000 people have been killed.

With farmers unable to plant or harvest crops due to the fighting, one third of the population – over 4 million people – need urgent humanitarian assistance.

Continued outbreaks of violence by the warring parties across several states, plus heavy rains, are making access for humanitarian agencies difficult.

However, our partners are working in the areas worst affected by the violence, including Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states.

Displaced people collect supplies   Credit: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance

Rowan Williams visit

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has just returned from a visit to our projects in South Sudan.

Travelling in his capacity as Chair of Christian Aid, Dr Williams visited local partners, including Nile Hope in Juba, to listen to their concerns, learn about their work, and offer support.

He also engaged closely with church leaders, lending support to their efforts to build peace and reconciliation.

Dr Williams visited two camps in Juba for internally displaced people, including the UN Tomping base.

Nile Hope is providing psychosocial support to children and young people there who have endured traumatic events over the previous few months.

He visited some of the camp’s children’s clubs, where young people can attend drawing, storytelling and sports and games classes, and attended an interdenominational church service.

Cholera and conflict affect the poorest

The rainy season, which started in early July, has increased the risk of disease across the country. As of 30 July, UN OCHA had recorded almost 5,500 cholera cases with 118 associated deaths.

Large parts of the country are inaccessible due to heavy rains, which make airstrips unusable and roads impassable.

As a result, humanitarian organisations are struggling to get emergency aid to those in need.

More than 1.1 million people have been internally displaced, while 434,000 have fled to neighbouring countries (UN OCHA).

Our partners’ response

Our partners are providing emergency supplies such as food, clean water, hygiene kits and shelter in remote areas worst hit by violence, insecurity and forced displacement.

In Unity state our long-term partner the Lutheran World Federation has been handing out blankets, cooking sets, sleeping mats, soap and water basins to displaced people.

Another partner, UNKEA, has been distributing medical supplies and water purification tablets to over 20,000 displaced people in Upper Nile state.


Since President Salva Kiir – leader of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM) - dismissed the entire cabinet in July 2013, political tensions have been building.

Conflict erupted in Juba on 15 December, and rapidly spread across the country.

The two sides signed a Cessation of Hostilities agreement on 23 January 2014, but violent clashes continued between the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar.

Civilians have been targeted on the basis of their ethnicity, others indiscriminately killed, and many subjected to unspeakable human rights abuses, including rape.

A recommitment to peace

On 9 May, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar signed an agreement recommitting themselves to the Cessation of Hostilities signed on 23 January, and promising to facilitate unhindered humanitarian access.

Senior church leaders were part of the negotiations - before Kiir and Machar signed the peace deal, Archbishop Deng of the Episcopal Church of Sudan held their hands and led a prayer.

Archbishop Deng, Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro of the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba, and Reverend Samuel Kobia, All Africa Conference of Churches Ecumenical Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, were summonsed to Addis Ababa to be present at the signing of the agreement.

We echo their calls for the peace agreement to come into full effect, and joined over 50 NGOs in appealing for the international community to 'urgently focus on clear and immediate actions to provide assistance to the people of South Sudan'.

This statement was released ahead of the UN Oslo donor conference on South Sudan in May, which raised over $600 million for the humanitarian response.

However, the Crisis Response Plan that will enable humanitarian agencies to meet essential needs up to December 2014 is still less than 50% funded.

In April, we joined members of the South Sudan NGO Forum to condemn the escalation in violence in South Sudan, expressing deep concern about the deteriorating humanitarian crisis there.

How you can help



Find out more

South Sudan: Christian Aid concerned over escalating human rights violations

Prayers for South Sudan

Our work in South Sudan  

Video: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks about South Sudan



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