The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

South Sudan famine

We are working with our partners in South Sudan to help save the lives of thousands of people affected by famine, and responding to thousands of others in Kenya facing serious food shortages. 

A serious drought affecting a number of countries across the Horn of Africa region has exacerbated the existing emergency in South Sudan created by ongoing civil conflict since 2013, and a famine has been declared by the South Sudan government and the UN in Unity State. The UN reports that more than 100,000 people are facing starvation in South Sudan, and an additional 5 million people across the country are facing severe food shortages. 

It is the first official famine declared anywhere in the world since the crisis in Somalia in 2011, when 250,000 people died. 

We have been working alongside Caritas South Sudan responding to urgent needs, including distributing food and water, in South Sudan since mid-2016 when violence flared up in the world’s newest nation. Our Senior Humanitarian Programmes Coordinator, Mark Mitchell, visited the country last year to assist Caritas South Sudan in the design and development of the programme.

We have also been working with CAFOD and Trocaire on a joint programme, first in Melut county and then Yirol since 2015 providing emergency supplies to people displaced by the conflict. 

We will be partnering with CAFOD (Caritas UK), Trocaire (Caritas Ireland) to provide emergency supplies to those affected by the famine in South Sudan. 

Horn of Africa crisis

The declaration of a famine in South Sudan follows a warning issued recently by the World Food Programme that 20 million people across Africa may be facing famine over the next six months, including in Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.  

Ethiopia and Kenya have also been seriously affected by drought.

We have an historic relationship with communities in Turkana, northern Kenya, which has also been badly affected by the drought, and are responding to needs in the region. We partnered with Trocaire to respond to a serious drought in Turkana in 2012 and 2013, and the recovery programme included resilience-building work that means communities have fared better in this current emergency.

The Caritas network is responding to those affected by drought across the region.

South Sudan situation background

In December 2013, South Sudan erupted into violent civil conflict, creating widespread and severe humanitarian needs across the region. A power struggle within the ruling political party turned into an armed conflict which escalated in 2014. 

More than 2.3 million people have been displaced and approximately 100,000 people have been sheltering in UN bases. We have been working with CAFOD (Caritas England and Wales) and local Caritas partners to provide water and essential emergency supplies.

In 2016, renewed fighting in South Sudan since the breakdown in a ceasefire and political agreement between rival factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army / Movement (SPLA/M) killed more than 300 people.

The fighting engulfed the capital, Juba, forcing up to 40,000 people to flee their homes, many of whom are still sheltering in schools, churches, UN and NGO compounds in Juba.

Our Humanitarian Programmes Coordinator, Mark Mitchell, spoke at a briefing held at parliament in 2016 that gave a New Zealand perspective on the crisis in South Sudan, highlighting concrete steps government, MPs and ordinary citizens can take to help change the outcomes for South Sudanese people.

A summary of the briefing can be found below.

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Tutu ana te puehu - Stirring up the dust