A serious humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the world’s youngest nation – beyond the glare of the international media spotlight. Concern is working to hold back the tide in a remote, forgotten region.
For three years there have been waves of violence and conflict in South Sudan, driving over three million people from their homes, over a million of them fleeing the country altogether. Since July of this year the situation has worsened, with thousands of families crossing the border into Uganda every week. On just one day, December 13, over 7,000 people arrived in the neighbouring country, seeking refuge.
Concern is working in the displacement camps in Juba and Bentiu in South Sudan. We are also working in BidiBidi in Uganda, which is set to become the biggest refugee camp in the world, providing shelter, water, sanitation, and nutrition services.
But outside of the camps and away from the conflict flashpoints, another mostly unreported crisis is looming. In Northern Bahr el Ghazal, huge numbers of people have had their livelihoods devastated by the economic fallout from the conflict. The South Sudanese pound has plunged in value and in October of 2016 the national inflation rate was over 800% — the highest in the world. Coupled with border closures, this has made it impossible for already-stressed families to survive without assistance.
“We are distributing emergency food aid to 37,000 families every quarter – and that’s just barely containing the problem,” says Concern Programme Director, Chris Oyua. “Many people are hovering on the verge of starvation and the malnutrition levels among children are the highest since we started keeping records 15 years ago.”