The Socio-political Situation
South Sudan is in the process of state building. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army allowed for six years of limited independence for southern Sudan, followed by a referendum. In January 2011, the referendum took place and 99 per cent of the people voted in favour of independence. The CPA was terminated on 9 July 2011 and the new State was established. The relationship with Sudan remains tense, with issues such as wealth sharing and border demarcation still unresolved. Abyei remains a disputed territory, and the main commercial North/South corridors have been blocked by Sudan since May 2011, leading to a spike in fuel prices and basic commodities. Official figures reported a Consumer Price Index increase of 46.2 per cent from July 2010 to July 2011. GDP per capita is estimated at $1,546.
Ministers were sworn in on 1 September 2011, providing a transitional administration that will govern for an interim period of up to three years. During this time the new constitution will be settled and democratic elections held. The challenges facing the first years of the new South Sudan state are immense.
The Government of South Sudan has virtually no reserves, a debt of at least $1 billion, and heavy dependence on oil revenues that make up more than 95 per cent of the Government budget. These revenues fund payroll for bureaucrats, the police and the South Sudan Armed Forces (SSAF). A clear lack of rules, implementation and disciplinary procedures means accountability processes for law-enforcement personnel are negligible. The loyalty of SSAF members absorbed from former rebel militia groups (RMGs) is unclear. Most of the Government’s limited resources are allocated to security and governance. In addition, Government bodies have been set up rapidly and are often disorganized, legislation and policy frameworks are not yet fully in place, and physical infrastructure, equipment and information systems are lacking.
In July, the Security Council adopted resolution 1996 (2011), which established the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) to consolidate peace and security and help establish the conditions for development in the Republic. The mission has a strong mandate for the protection of civilians. It is anticipated that its initial one-year mandate will be extended beyond July 2012. The Security Council had previously passed resolution 1990 (2011) to establish the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), an Ethiopian peacekeeping force mandated for a period of six months to monitor the demilitarization of Abyei. These resolutions were passed under chapter VII of the UN Charter authorizing the use of military force. OCHA will work with UNMISS and UNISFA to clearly separate humanitarian action from the political and security objectives of the entities.
The Humanitarian Situation
The most important factors affecting the humanitarian situation are insecurity stemming from the activities of armed militias, and from inter-communal violence linked to seasonal migration, resettlement of returnees and competition for natural resources. A total of 410 conflict incidents from January to August 2011 resulted in 3,070 civilian deaths (three times the number of deaths recorded during 2010) and the displacement of more than 300,000 people. Women and children disproportionately suffer as defenceless targets of inter-communal violence.
Another key impediment to the humanitarian situation is increasing demand from returnees on already over-stretched services and scarce resources. The return of 341,000 South Sudanese from Sudan since October 2010, to communities that lack basic services, has heightened pressure on over-stretched services in reception and final destinations areas. Some spontaneous returns occur, but the Government of South Sudan organizes the majority, with returnee flows expected to continue at a similar rate in 2012.
Nearly 3 million people (about 36 per cent of the population) will continue to be severely or moderately food insecure during 2012, according to the Annual Needs and Livelihoods Analysis published in February 2011. In August 2011, an estimated 1.2 million people required food assistance and an estimated 30 per cent of children were severely or moderately underweight. Deepening food insecurity is compounded by limited food flows from Sudan, poor local production, a mixed cropping season, high commodity prices, seasonal flooding, livestock diseases and increased population displacement. Many of the returnees have reached the end of food support but only 20 per cent have some sort of livelihood alternative in place. A rapid mid-season crop assessment conducted in August indicated that cereal production in 2011 would be 30 per cent less than in 2010, bringing the cereal production deficit to 400,000 MT against the 200,000 MT for 2011. Even when harvests are good, more than 35 per cent of the population in South Sudan is food insecure and requires assistance. It is estimated that approximately 150,000 MT of food aid will be needed in 2012.
The humanitarian situation is also affected by the underlying vulnerability of South Sudanese households. Decades of marginalization and war have left households with little ability to absorb shocks caused by family sickness, displacement, a poor harvest, flooding, drought, insecurity, and other social and economic challenges. Border-area communities experience the greatest hardship, as they rely almost exclusively on Sudan for food, fuel and other essential commodities. Humanitarian organizations provide more than 80 per cent of all health services in South Sudan, according to the World Health Organization, and in some areas they are the sole provider of basic life-saving or life-sustaining assistance.
South Sudan remains one of the most challenging environments in which to deliver humanitarian relief. Many vulnerable communities live in remote locations and are generally inaccessible due to poor road infrastructure. Interference with humanitarian operations has increased with the escalation of security incidents, such as attacks and re-mining by RMGs, intrusion by the SSAF and local authorities, extortion at checkpoints, seizure of relief supplies and occupied relief premises. These incidents have negatively affected humanitarian operations, resulting in the loss of vital relief supplies, the evacuation of staff, and delays in supporting affected populations quickly and safely. In some cases national security and police are not only unable to control looting but are actively involved.
The Humanitarian Strategy and Response
The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) identified strategic objectives in 2011. They include an ability to quickly respond to emergencies, to provide emergency assistance and protection to South Sudanese returning from Sudan, to maintain front-line services, to improve State-level humanitarian coordination and to strengthen protection.
The humanitarian coordination structure in South Sudan comprises:
Humanitarian Coordination Forum (HCF) for liaison between representatives from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, humanitarian agencies and donors.
HCT for overall strategy, policy and priority setting.
Inter-Sector Working Group (ISWG) comprising cluster leads and co-leads as a technical-level working group for the HCT and for inter-sector planning.
Emergency Preparedness and Response Task Force for broad information sharing on operational information and situational priorities.
Sector Working Groups for each cluster.
By September 2011, basic needs were largely being met by more than 342 NGOs and 20 UN and international agencies in South Sudan. The return process is being jointly managed with the Government. One third of the $621 million appeal was secured by mid-2011. Planning has started for the 2012 CAP and UNDAF processes.
It is expected that security conditions will worsen in the lead up to 2014 elections, and that the humanitarian situation in 2012 will deteriorate. Inter-communal violence will continue to be the largest cause of displacement and humanitarian need in South Sudan. Aggravating factors will include the resumption of disarmament campaigns, a limited peace dividend, economic pressures, poor rains in some areas and cross-border pressures. Localized conflicts with Rebel Militia Groups and along sensitive border areas will continue, and conflict-related displacement levels will be equal to, or greater than, 2011. The effectiveness of Protection of Civilians (PoC) measures for the displaced and others in need, including by UNMISS, remains uncertain.
South Sudanese will continue to return home in a moderate and steady stream, as the nine-month regularization period in Sudan ends. A large proportion of the estimated 250,000 returnees who will arrive in 2012 will gravitate to urban areas, straining local resources. Close to 100,000 displaced people from Abyei will return during the first quarter of the year. Border conflicts in Sudan will continue to push Sudanese civilians into South Sudan, while the refugee population from other neighbouring countries will remain the same. The production, availability and accessibility of food will be limited due to local and regional economic pressures and the decreased harvest in 2011. Flooding, drought, malnutrition and outbreaks of kala-azar, measles and other transmittable diseases are expected to continue. The ongoing restructuring of the aid system in South Sudan will lead to diminished and delayed disbursement of funds. Access constraints will continue to complicate the operating environment and cohesive coordination, and sustained advocacy will be vital to maximize humanitarian outcomes.