South Sudan

Conflict + displacement + hunger: five years of humanitarian crisis

The conflict in South Sudan enters its fifth year in 2018, and despite the efforts of humanitarian organisations like CARE, the humanitarian crisis continues to intensify.

7 million people in South Sudan are in need of assistance and protection, and a further 2 million South Sudanese have fled the country and are living as refugees in neighbouring countries.

Severe food insecurity continues to increase for the fifth consecutive year and the number of people suffering from extreme hunger has risen to 5.3 million – the highest number ever recorded in the country.

There has been an increase in the number of reported incidents of sexual violence due to continued conflict. Reports of sexual violence, including rape have increased dramatically in this country.

Mercy Laker, Assistant Country Director for CARE South Sudan, says:

CARE is concerned with the growing threat of sexual and physical abuse for women and girls as 87 percent of food from distribution points is collected by women. What is more worrisome is the fact that women head 43 percent of the households in the country. This means they have to battle aggressions including rape while undertaking daily survival tasks such as collecting firewood for sale or picking wild plants to feed their families.

Watch Nyamuch, a mother in South Sudan, tell the heartbreaking story of how mothers like her struggle to find enough food for their children - and see how CARE is responding through our mobile health clinics which provide emergency nutrition to mothers and babies:

The crisis in brief

  • Over the past year, the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan has deepened and spread, affecting people in areas previously considered stable and exhausting the coping capacity of those already impacted.
  • 7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection across the country as a result of armed conflict, inter-communal violence, economic crisis, disease outbreaks and climatic shocks.
  • 5.3 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure. The figure is projected to rise to more than 7 million 
  • Acute malnutrition remains a major public health emergency. One third of children under the age of five are malnourished and 1 out of 4 pregnant or lactating mothers are malnourished. Over 1 million children are at risk of malnutrition. 
  • 4 million people have been displaced with 2 million fleeing to neighbouring countries. 85 per cent of the displaced are women and children.

What we are doing

CARE’s emergency response has so far directly assisted more than 900,000 people in four of the worst affected states, with emergency nutrition, livelihoods, health, peacebuilding and protection support.  

Read the latest updates

Click here to read the latest stories from CARE’s emergency response in South Sudan.


Years of brutal civil war in South Sudan has left tens of thousands of people dead and forced millions of people from their homes. Following outbreaks of fierce fighting in late 2016, Rosalind Crowther, CARE's Country Director in South Sudan, said:

Every year, the situation is deteriorating. Right now, more than seven million people in South Sudan need humanitarian assistance. Violence has forcibly displaced over 4 million people and some two and a half million have fled to neighbouring countries. South Sudanese people are resilient but they have become tired of the conflict. They want peace so that they can begin to re-build their lives.


Our response

CARE is implementing emergency response programs in Unity, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei and Upper Nile regions - the most conflict-affected and hardest-to-reach areas of South Sudan. As at April 2018, we have helped more than 780,000 people with support including:

  • food security and livelihood support
  • nutrition treatment for children with acute malnutrition
  • mobile clinic services
  • curative health services
  • gender-based violence awareness messaging and psychosocial support for affected people
  • conflict mitigation and resolution through peace committees.

While much of the humanitarian response has been centred around Protection of Civilian sites, currently housing around 100,000 people, the majority of South Sudanese affected by the conflict live in areas cut off by fighting, seasonal flooding or poor infrastructure. In Unity state, CARE teams travel on foot to vaccinate children against polio and measles, and deliver life saving drugs and nutrition supplies. In Jonglei, CARE provides assistance in communities hosting other South Sudanese people who have fled from fighting. 

CARE is also supporting South Sudanese refugees in Sudan and Uganda, including providing assistance to refugees from South Sudan in Rhino camp.