Midwives at Nyong Primary Health Care Centre taking care of a pregnant woman. The Health Pooled Fund works with local partners to enhance supervision and workplace training for healthcare personnel throughout South Sudan.
Photo: Andreea Campeanu/Health Pooled Fund
Our humanitarian assistance in South Sudan
South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, becoming the world's youngest nation and also one of the world's poorest countries. South Sudan is also one of the countries where most women die in childbirth.
The modern history of South Sudan has been characterised by conflict. Prior to independence, several civil wars were raging in what is today South Sudan. After a period of post-independence calm, a conflict broke out in late 2013 between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, who heads the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition.
The availability of weapons is great after decades of strife in the region. Poor opportunities for people to support themselves and old tensions between various groups of the population have led to many young people being recruited to the conflict. Today there are an estimated 16,000 child soldiers in South Sudan, of whom a large number have been forced to fight against their will.
Civilians have been specifically targeted by attacks. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable, and sexual and gender-based violence is extremely common in the conflict. August 2015 saw the signing of a peace agreement, but the fighting continues. In July 2016, a conflict broke out in the capital Juba. This means that the crisis has now spread to most of the country.
Three million people have been forced to flee
The conflict has forced many people to flee to other parts of the country and to neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. For example, in the second half of 2016, refugee flows to Uganda increased drastically – every day an average of 2,600 new refugees crossed the border. More than three million people have been forced to leave their homes.
People are fleeing because of the violence, but also because the conflict has led to a collapsed economy and an extensive shortage of food. Over 40 per cent of the population is suffering a major shortage of food, and this figure is expected to rise significantly in the first few months of 2017.
Outbreaks of communicable diseases are common, and access to health care extremely limited since societal functions run by the state have in principle ceased to function. Today, half of all children in South Sudan do not go to school. Neither South Sudan nor the neighbouring countries to which refugees flee have the resources to receive then adequately.
The rainy period has a major impact on the country, which has an almost non-existent road network, thereby necessitating the air transport of supplies for large parts of the year.
The 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for South Sudan adopted by the UN has three strategic objectives:
- Save lives and alleviate the suffering of those most in need of assistance and protection.
- Protect the rights and uphold the dignity of the most vulnerable.
- Support at-risk communities to sustain their capacity to cope with significant threats.
Sida's support in South Sudan
Sweden is one of the biggest humanitarian donors in the country. In 2016, the majority of Sida's humanitarian assistance went to the UN Common Humanitarian Fund that has been established for South Sudan (the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund). Other actors that Sida generally uses to channel its humanitarian aid are Swedish and international civil society organisations, various UN agencies and the International Red Cross.
In 2017, humanitarian agencies such as Sida will attempt to reach the approximately 5.8 million people most affected by the crisis. Sida's humanitarian assistance will focus on life-saving interventions in several areas, particularly focusing on vulnerable groups, above all women, children and the elderly. Interventions to combat sexual and gender-based violence will be prioritised.