Today, ERC Lowcock briefed the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in South Sudan. He expressed concern that as the conflict in enters its fifth year in 2018, the humanitarian crisis continues to intensify.
According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview for 2018 released on Tuesday, even though more than 2 million people have fled South Sudan as refugees over the past four years of conflict, 7 million people inside the country – almost two-thirds of the remaining population – still need humanitarian assistance. About 1.9 million people are internally displaced.
“The conclusions of this comprehensive assessment of needs are bleak”, the ERC said. “The number of severely food insecure people has steadily increased with each successive year of the conflict. As we approach the end of 2017, 1.25 million people are in the emergency phase of food insecurity – that is almost twice as many people who are just one step away from famine as was the case at the same time last year. In early 2018, half of the population will be reliant on emergency food aid. The next lean season beginning in March is likely again to see famine conditions in several locations across the country.”
The ERC noted that the alarming level of food insecurity in South Sudan is directly linked to restrictions on people’s freedom of movement, their access to humanitarian assistance and their ability to plant or harvest. He emphasized that until international humanitarian law is complied with, the fighting ends and basic services are established, humanitarian needs in South Sudan will continue to grow.
ERC Lowcock also addressed the issue of insecurity, which continues to put the lives of many aid workers are risk. “(They) are paying with their lives to deliver assistance”, he said. “At least 95 humanitarian workers have been killed in the line of duty since the start of the conflict; and at least 28 of them this year alone. More than 90 per cent of them are national staff, who form the backbone of the humanitarian response.”
The ERC called on Security Council’s members to use their influence to ensure that the parties comply with their obligations under IHL to respect and protect civilians, including humanitarian workers; and ensure that the parties allow and facilitate humanitarian relief operations and people’s access to assistance and protection.