Displaced by conflict, Dalidia Jitlian prepares food in Doro refugee camp in Upper Nile state (Copyright: WFP/Ahnna Gudmunds)
The humanitarian situation in South Sudan has deteriorated severely in recent months. The already fragile situation that existed at the time of independence from Sudan in July 2011 has been exacerbated by a range of factors including conflict and internal population displacement, the ongoing influx of refugees from Sudan, soaring food prices and poor harvests.
As well as being the world’s newest country, it is also one of the poorest and least developed. Among the challenges facing South Sudan are a massive cereal deficit and a disruption of oil production which accounts for most of its national revenue. It is estimated that nearly 5 million out of a population of some 9 million South Sudanese will struggle to provide food for themselves this year – of these, more than a million are estimated to be severely food insecure. WFP is planning to provide food assistance to some 2.7 million people in 2012 and is preparing to scale up operations should the situation require.
Inter-communal violence has created widespread displacement in recent months. Foremost among the flash points is Jonglei state where WFP is assisting large numbers of people who have been driven from their homes. WFP is also assisting people displaced from the contested region of Abyei as well as the many refugees who continue to flee fighting across the border in Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. Meanwhile, a massive rise is expected in the number of returnees from Sudan.
The closure of South Sudan’s border with Sudan last year quickly disrupted the flow of commodities and escalated market prices in the landlocked South. With the race on to pre-position food before the start of the rainy season in March/April, WFP is exploring various options for the transportation of increased volumes of humanitarian supplies. Meanwhile, the lack of roads and other infrastructure within the country continue to pose serious logistical challenges to the movement of both commercial and humanitarian stocks.