South Sudan: Humanitarian assistance eases famine conditions; yet highest number of people facing food gaps ever recorded

JUBA, South Sudan—(June 21, 2017)– According to an early warning famine report released today, areas of South Sudan in famine have improved; but the country is experiencing the most alarming levels of food insecurity in its history.

In June and July, the number of people suffering from extreme hunger will rise to six million from 4.9 million in January. That is half of the population in South Sudan – 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.

However, the number of people facing famine conditions decreased from 100,000 to 45,000, due to humanitarian aid reaching the areas of Leer, Mayendit and Koch counties where famine was declared earlier this year.

“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,” said Valentina Mirza, assistance country director for CARE South Sudan.

“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.”

Three years of brutal civil war has contributed to an economic crisis and below average harvest that continues to send food prices skyrocketing. The result has been a food crisis that continues to spread throughout the country. According to the early warning report, 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.

“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,” said Mirza. “Sadly these senseless deaths and human suffering will only continue, unless this merciless conflict is finally brought to an end.”

More than 20 million people are facing starvation in Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen alone, in what is being called the largest humanitarian crisis in the history of the United Nations. Tens of thousands more are affected in Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

As a member of the Humanitarian Coalition, CARE Canada is part of an urgent national joint appeal for donations. For every eligible donation made by individual Canadians to registered agencies retroactive from March 17 until June 30, 2017, the Government of Canada will contribute an equivalent amount to the Famine Relief Fund, supporting humanitarian response in the affected countries and helping us reach more people in need.

To learn more or donate, Canadians can visit:


CARE has spokespeople available in South Sudan and Canada. Contact:

Darcy Knoll
Communications Specialist | CARE Canada | 613.790.2134

About CARE’s work in South Sudan:

CARE is providing assistance in health and nutrition for mothers and children under five years old, food and livelihoods assistance, peace building and sexual and physical violence prevention across four states including some of the worst affected by conflict. Since the crisis began in 2013 CARE has assisted over 350,000 people acrossGreater Unity, Upper Nile, Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria Regions of South Sudan.