Foreign Aid to South Sudan
The need for foreign aid to South Sudan is quickly growing. Not only is South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis worsening but extreme flooding, mass famine, economic troubles and aid cuts combine to exacerbate poverty and instability. As the Russia-Ukraine war continues, South Sudan struggles as donors scale back their donations and redirect their foreign assistance budgets to aid Ukraine.

Violence and Political Unrest

The political situation in South Sudan is shaky and has led to violence and insecurity among the South Sudanese people. For context, South Sudan voted to secede from Sudan and became an independent state in 2011. However, shortly after, in 2013, civil war broke out due to a conflict between South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir, Sudan People’s Liberation Army in-Opposition (SPLA-IO) and “other armed groups and affiliated militias.” The warring parties reached a peace agreement in 2015, but that quickly fell apart in 2016. In 2018, Kiir and Riek Machar, former leaders of the SPLA-IO, signed a peace accord in hopes of resolution.

The peace accord led to the division of power in a unity government officially inaugurated in February 2020, with Kiir as president and Machar as the first vice president. In August 2022, the unity government decided to extend by two years the post-civil war “transitional period,” which the government previously agreed would end in 2022. “Due to the lack of progress on many provisions of the peace agreement,” the transitional period will end in 2023, Africanews reports.

The need for foreign aid in South Sudan is critical because the general violence may have lessened, but the prevalence of other atrocities has risen. For example, United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) found a “218[%] increase in conflict-related sexual violence” at the end of the second quarter of 2022.

In 2021, UNMISS documented 440 civilian murders and 64 rapes in Western Equatoria committed by the SPLA-IO and the military. South Sudan has held no perpetrators accountable and some senior officials in the government are advocating against accountability for various crimes, including ones committed by rebel groups and government authorities.

Flooding and Extreme Famine

The need for foreign aid to South Sudan is also high due to recurring mass flooding and extreme famine. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in 2022, the flooding impacted around 1 million people. Bearing in mind that South Sudan has a population of about 12.4 million people, this statistic means flooding has affected around 8% of the country’s total population.

A World Food Programme (WFP) report published in July 2022 reveals the extent of the extreme famine within South Sudan. Of the population of 12.4 million, around 7.7 million people are enduring severe food insecurity. This equates to more than 60% of the population struggling to meet their food needs. The report also reveals that more than “one-third of the counties in South Sudan have Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates that exceed the emergency threshold of 15[%].”

Economic Woes and Aid Cuts

In areas such as Warrap, locals say the price of basic goods has risen by 50% due to the “war in Ukraine as well as local currency depreciation and other supply chain disruptions.” In an October 2022 interview with The New Humanitarian, Agany Monychol, a doctor who runs a hospital in Tonj, said malnutrition cases are now twice as prevalent due to the rising prices of food.

The New Humanitarian also notes that aid cuts are not just a result of donor reallocations to Ukraine but also stem from a distrust of the South Sudanese government due to corrupt spending.

In June 2022, the WFP suspended aid to 1.7 million South Sudanese people due to “critical funding shortages.” Donor funding for Monychol’s hospital had also been reduced by 30%, leading to staff cuts and patients struggling without medicine.

Action to Assist South Sudan

The humanitarian crisis and growing poverty rates stem from a combination of factors, which is why foreign aid to South Sudan is crucial. According to the latest official World Bank estimates from 2016, 82% of South Sudanese people live under the national poverty line, giving South Sudan a first-place ranking for the highest poverty rates out of the World Bank’s recorded list of country-specific poverty estimates.

Despite funding shortfalls, the WFP provided 4 million people in South Sudan with food aid between January 2022 and June 2022. The U.S. is also committed to providing aid to South Sudan. According to the Department of State’s website, the U.S. is the top-ranking provider of foreign aid to South Sudan. From January 2022 to August 2022, the U.S. supplied South Sudan with more than $371 million worth of humanitarian aid.

As the youngest nation in the world, it will take time for the government of South Sudan to address issues relating to poverty while focusing on establishing political stability to maintain peace. Until then, it is important to continue to provide foreign aid to South Sudan in order to address the humanitarian crisis.

– Matthew Wikfors
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in South Sudan
The Republic of South Sudan is a nation that has continuously dealt with longstanding conflict and instability. As a result, conflict-related, sexually violent crimes throughout the country have had an unwavering presence while human trafficking in South Sudan is also prevalent. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) documented 224 cases of sexual violence affecting 133 women, 19 men, 66 girls and six boys in 2019. Past violent incidents in the country, taking place between 2014 and 2018, affected 55 women and 26 girls, according to the Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Report of the United Nations Secretary-General.

The Republic of South Sudan has yet to make significant progress in eliminating the human trafficking problem that threatens the country. This has caused the nation to remain in the Tier 3 category according to the United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons report for 2020. Countries that fall within the Tier 3 category risk possible restrictions and the loss of U.S. assistance. The following are five facts about human trafficking in South Sudan that can help motivate action, as well as raise awareness of the threats and dangers that so many throughout the country experience.

5 Facts About Human Trafficking in South Sudan

  1. Traffickers most frequently sexually exploit women in South Sudan’s capital–Juba–as well as Nimule, a city in the country that borders Uganda. Beyond this, South Sudanese women and girls are vulnerable to domestic servitude throughout the country. It is not uncommon for male occupants of the household to sexually abuse the women of the house or force them to engage in commercial sex acts.
  2. Both domestic and foreign victims are at risk of human traffickers exploiting them in South Sudan. Organized networks of traffickers cut across North, Central and East Africa and leave East African migrants and those transiting through South Sudan vulnerable to abduction, sex trafficking and forced labor.
  3. Orphaned children in South Sudan experience an increased risk of trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation. For example, unaccompanied minors in refugee camps or internally displaced children are particularly in danger of traffickers abducting them.
  4. Some factors prevent victims from reporting traffickers. Internal factors such as social stigma and fear of punishment can often discourage victims of trafficking from reporting the crimes and transgressions that traffickers committed against them to the government’s law enforcement officers.
  5. The government of the Republic of South Sudan thus far has had limited success in implementing proper strategies to address the dangers of human trafficking. Increasing the rule of law and ensuring that investigations translate into arrests and prosecutions is just one step the government must take to eliminate its trafficking problem. As the Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Report of the United Nations Secretary-General noted, “Strengthening the capacity of national rule of law institutions is critical in order to advance credible and inclusive accountability processes for past crimes, as well as for prevention and deterrence of future crimes.”

Looking Ahead

Despite persistent challenges, progress in combating the human trafficking problem in the Republic of South Sudan occurred in 2019. With support from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, over 700 officers of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces, as well as 150 SPLA-IO/RM (the pro-Riek Machar Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition) officers, received training focused on legal frameworks prohibiting the use of sexual violence. The SPLA-IO/RM also issued four command orders, with one of these orders instructing its commanders to form committees to investigate cases of sexual violence.

UNMISS continues to work with local commanders to encourage the release and referral of abducted women and children to appropriate support structures. Political advocacy is persistent and ongoing to secure the release of all female and child trafficking victims and reduce human trafficking in South Sudan.

 – Elisabeth Petry
Photo: Flickr