South Sudan

South Sudan is experiencing the most alarming levels of food insecurity in its history.

Humanitarian aid, from CARE and other organisations, has eased famine conditions in hard-hit areas of the country; yet the number of people suffering from extreme hunger has risen to 6 million – the highest number ever recorded in the country.

People who are displaced within South Sudan due to the conflict and the host communities where they sought safety are the most affected. Valentina Mirza, Assistance Country Director for CARE South Sudan, said:

People that fled to the Protection of Civilian sites last year are now returning home to burnt houses in southern Unity, uncultivated fields and limited health services. They have nothing to feed their families with, except water lilies in the swamps where they collect water from.

She added: “A woman we talked to had just returned from a seven day trip on foot to receive food rations for her family. The small silver lining is that that humanitarian agencies can from now on access her village with food assistance and agricultural inputs. So she will be able to cultivate in the upcoming season to feed her family.”

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.
  • Nearly 7.5 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.
  • Acute malnutrition remains a major public health emergency. Out of 23 counties with recent data, 14 have Global Acute Malnutrition at or above 15% of the population.
  • 6 million people (half of the national population) are estimated to be severely food insecure. The magnitude of the food crisis is unprecedented.
  • 400,000 South Sudanese people have fled to Sudan, and more than 800,000 South Sudanese people are living as refugees in Uganda.

What we are doing

CARE’s emergency response has so far directly assisted more than 500,000 people in four of the worst affected states, with emergency nutrition, water, sanitation, health, hygiene, education and protection support. We also support over 40 health facilities in Unity and Upper Nile States.

Read the latest updates

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


Three years of brutal civil war in South Sudan has left tens of thousands of people dead and forced more than 2 million people from their homes. More than 700,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries and at least 1.6 million people are internally displaced, most of them living in unregulated and insecure camps with no means of support. Following outbreaks of fierce fighting in late 2016, Fred McCray, CARE’s Country Director in South Sudan, said:

Previously peaceful areas have now plunged into violence, leaving fields abandoned, houses burnt, assets looted. Seeds and tools have been destroyed and farmers are too scared to plough their fields or sell products at the markets. Many people have fled their homes, leaving productive lands fallow. This desolate state of survival has become the new normal for millions of families in South Sudan.

With the economy in freefall and below average harvests sending food prices skyrocketing, there are new areas of South Sudan reaching emergency levels of food crisis, which is just one level above famine. These are areas where people have been recently displaced because of outbreaks of the conflict that drove them off their land leaving them with no access to food and their agricultural livelihoods. For example in Jonglei State, there have been 200,000 people recently displaced. Valentina Mirza, Assistance Country Director for CARE South Sudan, said:

The food crisis is rapidly deteriorating in new areas of the country where violence is breaking out and the people who are starving have not been accessible due to the conflict. It’s the unfortunate recipe for famine, and urgent humanitarian assistance must be allowed to avert more catastrophe from spreading across the country. Sadly these senseless deaths and human suffering will only continue, unless this merciless conflict is finally brought to an end.

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. So far (November 2017) we have helped more than 508,000 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.