Since the beginning of 2017, clashes between government and opposition forces are reported in Upper Nile, Jonglei, Central and Eastern Equatoria, and Western Bahr el Ghazal, causing widespread human rights violations, large scale internal displacement and refugee outflow towards Sudan and Uganda. Violence against aid workers has escalated, hampering aid delivery in conflict-affected areas.

Famine was declared in southern parts of Unity state at the end of February, and food security is expected to further deteriorate at the height of the lean season in July. Critical malnutrition levels are reported in Unity, Western Equatoria, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Eastern Equatoria and Jonglei. This is compounded by an ongoing cholera outbreak notably in Lakes and Jonglei. The extended rainy season from April to October is likely to accelerate the spread of the disease. 

INFORM measures South Sudan's risk of humanitarian crisis and disaster for 2017 to be extremely high, at 8.8/10, an increase from 8.3/10 in 2016. South Sudan's vulnerability is measured at 9/10.?

Latest Developments

28/05: With over 8,000 cases of cholera and 248 deaths (CFR 3.1%) reported since the beginning of the outbreak in July 2016, this is the longest, most widespread and deadliest cholera outbreak since 2011.?   

25/05: 7,000 IDPs are in need of food in Bargel county in Western Lakes.?

25/05: At the beginning of May, the government raised registration fees for NGOs operating in-country, including an increase from $500 to $3,500 for international organisations.?

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Key priorities

Food security: Ongoing violence, market disruption, and crop failures have resulted in record food prices, and instability has spread to areas that were previously stable. There are pockets of people in Unity and Bahr el Ghazal facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). ?

Health: The crisis continues to trigger major public health risks and disease outbreaks including malaria, cholera and measles. ?

Protection: Civilians are regularly subjected to human rights violations including sexual violence.  Reports of targeted attacks against civilians have increased since July 2016. ?

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Information Gaps and needs

  • During the rainy season (May to October) more than 60% of South Sudan is inaccessible by road, limiting data on displacement and population needs.?  
  • Lack of information regarding the number of displaced in host communities and the needs of host communities.
  • Limited information on displaced people living on islands in Unity.
  • The frequency of fighting in Unity, Greater Upper Nile and the Equatorias is unclear. Restriction to freedom of movement make it difficult for monitors to investigate violations of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements.?
  • Persecution of journalists by the government limits the availability of information.

Lessons learned

  • The start of the dry season in January normally facilitates a renewed threat of conflict as roads dry out, and government and opposition forces are more mobile.??
  • During the rainy season, increased flooding significantly reduces space for airdrops.
  • The conflict has previously affected the deployment of local staff from different ethnic backgrounds to conflict-affected areas.?
  • SGBV is commonly used as a weapon of war. Access to survivors is difficult: many are reluctant to come forward due to fear of stigmatisation.? Trained female health workers are needed.
  • The needs of pastoralists are often overlooked by humanitarian organisations. When data is collected regarding pastoralists, it is usually aggregated with data from other population groups.?
Key documents

South Sudan


Humanitarian Needs Overview

Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium


Looking back to look ahead? Reviewing key lessons from Operation Lifeline Sudan and past humanitarian operations in South Sudan

National Human Development Report 2015


South Sudan

Peace: the only thing worth fighting for


Scenarios for South Sudan in 2020

United Nations Mission in South Sudan


The State of Human Rights in the Protracted Conflict in South Sudan

Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in South Sudan


We Can Die Too