The Republic of South Sudan faces enormous challenges in meeting the humanitarian needs across all its states due to recurring and intersecting threats of armed conflict, tribal violence, economic crisis, food insecurity, disease outbreaks and climate-related shocks.
Since the eruption of the conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, over 2.3 million people – one in every five people – have been displaced by violence and food insecurity, including 726,600 who have fled to neighboring countries and 1.66 million others who remain internally displaced. Nearly 54 percent of those internally displaced are estimated to be children. Over 6.1 million people across South Sudan require humanitarian assistance.2 Some 185,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) have registered for refuge in UN PoC sites, while the remaining 90 percent of IDPs are outside the PoC sites. Humanitarian situation is dire, with only 41 percent of appeal funding received to date from the US$1.29 billion requirements for South Sudan 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan.
Despite the signing of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in August 2015, violence continues to affect all civilians across the country. Lack of justice and the rule of law to respond compound the ongoing violence. An unprecedented cholera and malaria outbreaks have been recorded since 2014 and continue to remain a critical concern. As of July 2016, 4.8 million people are food-insecure. An entire generation of children is at risk with nearly one in every three schools being destroyed, damaged, occupied or closed, impacting nearly 1 million children’s education. An estimate of 15,000 – 16,000 children are recruited by armed groups; over 10,000 are registered as unaccompanied, separated or missing. Hunger and malnutrition is widespread, with over 686,000 under 5 years are estimated to be acutely malnourished, including more than 231,300 who are severely malnourished. One in three pregnant and lactating women is malnourished.
South Sudan has an exceptionally high early pregnancy rate (300/1000 for girls aged 15- 19 years). According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)5, this is attributable to high rate of child, early and forced marriage. Adolescents and youth, specifically females, are the most affected group in terms of HIV/AIDS. According to the Gender-based Violence Information Management System (GBVIMS), one in four recorded incidents is sexual violence, including rape. One in five IDP women reported to have been raped during the ongoing crisis. Cultural norms in South Sudan discourage reporting of incidences, and as such, combating gender inequality and GBV is extremely difficult. Women and girls’ access to education and other empowerment opportunities are little to none, contributing to their increased risks of exposure to sexual violence. Displacement resulting from conflict and violence, mass numbers of armed groups, and the weak rule of law exacerbate the situation of women and girls.
Even if sheltered inside PoC sites, women and girls’ protection concerns do not end; they face risks of violence on a daily basis, living in fear of constant attack from men from within and outside the camp who act in an environment of impunity. Women and girls who must leave the camp in unending search of firewood are particularly at risk, as evidenced by researches conducted by many organizations, including the WRC, CARE, Refugees International, among many others.