Since one year today South Sudan has been facing one of the most severe humanitarian crises currently taking place. Since a political conflict turned violent in December 2013, over 1.4 million people have been internally displaced and over 480 000 sought refuge in neighbouring countries – having a destabilising effect on the whole region. At the same time, South Sudan hosts over 247 000 refugees, mainly from neighbouring Sudan, who are fully dependent on international assistance. The crisis is also a “children’s crisis” as 70% of the South Sudanese refugees in the region are children and youth under 18 years old. Inside South Sudan, an estimated 235 000 children under 5 years are severely undernourished.
The EU, Member States and the European Commission, has provided so far over €272 million (36.5% of all donations according to the UN) in response to this crisis. The European Commission alone has committed over €110 million in 2014 for life-saving humanitarian assistance such as food, nutrition, health care, clean water, sanitation, shelter and protection. In addition, the Commission supports the response to the refugee crisis in the Horn of African with around €50 million. Food assistance has helped to prevent a famine of the most vulnerable in South Sudan this year. But the needs remain huge and estimated 2.5 million might face hunger in early 2015.
Humanitarian assistance saves life and alleviates suffering but it cannot solve the crisis and it cannot be sustained at the current level for very long. A political solution is urgently needed as a precondition for peace and reconciliation among the various fighting groups in South Sudan. The humanitarian organisations need to have access to the most vulnerable and operate unhindered throughout the country.