10 Years Later: The Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan

South Sudan marked its 10-year anniversary of independence earlier this month on July 9. This is a huge milestone, but how are the people of South Sudan faring today, 10 years later?

Still the newest country in the world, South Sudan possesses immense beauty and a host of natural resources. Unfortunately, it’s also not a stranger to violence and political unrest. South Sudan was established in 2011 after a violent civil war. In 2013, conflict arose again, leading to an unstable living environment involving armed conflict, economic deterioration, and food insecurity.

South Sudanese civilians have continued to encounter immense crises, causing millions of people to flee their homes and take refuge wherever they can. The unrest has led to the largest refugee crisis in Africa and the third-largest refugee crisis globally.

Nearly 2.3 million South Sudanese refugees have fled to neighboring countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and more than 1.8 million remain internally displaced within South Sudan. There are still countless South Sudanese people—many vulnerable children—who lack sufficient support. 

“Refugees didn’t just escape a place. They had to escape a thousand memories until they’d put enough time and distance between them and their misery to wake to a better day.”
Nadia Hashimi

Alarmingly, children make up 63 percent of the total South Sudanese refugee population, and many have been separated from their parents. Children—especially those unaccompanied by family—are particularly vulnerable to harm from refugee situations and displacement.

While displaced, children often miss out on developmental essentials such as school, nutritious meals, and playtime with friends. Displaced children are also at much greater risk of abuse, abduction, forced labor, and sexual violence and exploitation. The distress can damage children’s intellectual, psychological, and social development, leading to compounding problems throughout their lives.

Data reveals a bleak situation for the children of South Sudan: one child in 10 dies before their fifth birthday, 31 percent of children suffer from stunting due to malnutrition, 62 percent of children are out of school, and 71 percent of girls (ages 15+) struggle to read and write. Additionally, five percent of girls (ages 15-19) are married, and one in 16 gives birth.  Thirty seven percent of children have been displaced by conflict, and 66 percent of people live in poverty.

What Can We Do To Help?

The international community must address an urgent funding shortfall to support the children and displaced people of South Sudan. Please send a message to your member of Congress urging them to support continued access to education for refugees and other displaced children.

You can also support Save the Children’s mission to help children in South Sudan and around the world with a one-time or recurring donation. Save the Children worked in South Sudan prior to its independence in 2011, and we remain a leading charity for children’s humanitarian relief and development. In fact, we are the national focal point for family tracing and reunification, launching innovative approaches, as well as the lead health and nutrition provider in several South Sudanese states. Click here to donate in support of Save the Children’s work.

Additionally, you can Sponsor a Child to help them grow up healthy and safe, all for about $1 a day. Some children have been waiting 619 days for sponsorship. You are also given the opportunity to start a fundraiser. Whether it’s an athletic challenge or your own unique creation, your fundraiser can make a difference in a child’s life.

If you are unable to help a child through the previously stated opportunities, please help spread awareness by sharing this blog post on social media. The more awareness that’s brought to the crisis within South Sudan, the larger possibility there is for aid that will make a difference.

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Maya is a rising senior and a Save the Children Club Leader within the Ossining school district. She has a passion for promoting inclusion, equity, and awareness of vital humanitarian issues through her published works. As a social activist, Maya hopes to effectively spread awareness of various issues relating to international issues, including migration and social and racial justice.