FAQs: Conflict in South Sudan and the risks to children

Conflict in South Sudan has created a hunger crisis, leaving 4.6 million people out of a population of 11.3 million in need of immediate aid. Children are most at risk for malnutrition, and they’re also susceptible to armed recruitment and disease. Read our FAQs to learn more.

By Kathryn Reid, World Vision U.S.
Updated August 18, 2015 at 08:30am PDT

Since December, violent conflict in South Sudan has killed tens of thousands and driven more than 2 million South Sudanese from their homes. About 1.6 million people are displaced within the country, including 166,000 civilians who’ve sought shelter in U.N. bases.

For 4.6 million people in South Sudan, lack of food is at a crisis level. Displaced families have been unable to farm and feed livestock. Food prices have risen significantly, and aid groups have been unable to deliver relief goods in remote, contested areas.

As violence escalates, more and more children are witnesses or victims of attacks. With little to keep them preoccupied, children are also vulnerable to armed recruitment by government or militia forces.

Find the answers below to some frequently asked questions about the conflict in South Sudan.

What is the current humanitarian situation in South Sudan?

  • 4.6 million people are in need of food aid.
  • 2 million people have fled their homes. About 1.6 million of them — including more than 823,000 children — are internally displaced; the rest are refugees in nearby countries.
  • Internally displaced people (IDPs) live in overcrowded camps, putting a severe strain on the food, water, healthcare, shelter, and sanitation services available.

Why is hunger a growing problem in South Sudan?

Conflict is the main reason behind the current crisis, including increased levels of hunger. Armed opposition groups are fighting government troops in several states.

Conflict and insecurity make it difficult for humanitarian organizations to distribute food and other aid. The rainy season also cut off road transportation to more than 60 percent of the nation, making the situation worse.

What other threats are children facing?

Many children can’t go to school, and there is little for them to do in displacement camps. Extreme poverty and a history of exposure to conflict make children vulnerable to recruitment as soldiers. The U.N. children’s agency estimated there were 12,000 child soldiers in South Sudan at the end of 2014.

There are also reports of sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

Children need safety, healthy activities, opportunities to learn, and psychosocial support so they can recover from overwhelming experiences.

What is life like for people displaced by the conflict?

Fearful of further attacks, many internally displaced people live in overcrowded camps, including more than 166,000 people who live in U.N.-controlled settlements. They depend on organizations like World Vision for food, shelter, water, sanitation services, and healthcare.

More than 600,000 South Sudanese live in refugee camps in Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, and Kenya. Heavy seasonal rains have led to flooding, so conditions are deteriorating.

In addition to standing water, IDPs must cope with overloaded drinking water and sanitation systems that heighten the threat of diseases. A cholera outbreak in Juba, the capital city, is at emergency levels and spreading to other areas.

How is World Vision responding in South Sudan?

More than 693,000 people have benefited from World Vision assistance in South Sudan, including:

  • Emergency food supplies for families
  • Special nutrition treatment for malnourished children and for pregnant and lactating women
  • Clean water, hygiene kits, sanitation facilities, and training on cholera prevention
  • Shelter items, mosquito nets, blankets, and other household goods
  • Child-Friendly Spaces for healthy play, learning, protection, and activities that help children avoid recruitment into armed groups
  • Family tracing and reunification for unaccompanied children

The organization also provides assistance to South Sudan refugees in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya.

Learn more

How you can respond

  • Pray for children and families affected by the fighting in South Sudan, especially for children who are hungry and vulnerable to disease and violence. Pray that the peace process would bring a permanent end to the hostilities and that humanitarian organizations like World Vision would be able to meet the needs of displaced people. Check out our South Sudan prayer guide at World Vision magazine.
  • Make a one-time donation to help meet the needs of vulnerable children and families in South Sudan. Your gift will help provide basic food and nutrition supplies, as well as healthcare, clean water, shelter, and protection interventions for families in need.
  • Give monthly to help World Vision respond to humanitarian needs amid the conflict in South Sudan. Your monthly gift will help even more children and families with basics like food, clean water, and medical care.


  • Violent conflict in South Sudan has killed tens of thousands and driven more than 2 million people from their homes.
  • Displaced South Sudanese, especially children, are threatened by malnutrition, disease, and violence.
  • World Vision has assisted more than 693,000 people with food and nutrition, clean water and sanitation, household goods, education, and child protection.

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