South Sudan

South Sudan underwent one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises in 2017

Facts about South Sudan

The flag for South Sudan
Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
The flag for South Sudan
The flag for South Sudan

Hostilities in the capital, Juba, in 2016 were followed by a worsening of the humanitarian situation.

The humanitarian needs spread throughout South Sudan. One million people stood on the verge of catastrophic famine. Of approximately 11 million inhabitants, 5.8 million needed assistance. Altogether 4 million people are refugees. Of these, 2 million are internally displaced, more than half of whom are children.

The country has a young population, 70 per cent of which is under the age of 30.


Historic overview: South Sudan and Norwegian Development Cooperation

South Sudan became an independent nation in 2011, following several decades of destructive civil war and a comprehensive peace agreement signed in 2005.

The desire for independence for the ten southernmost regions of Sudan had been confirmed by a referendum. However, the positive development in South Sudan came to a halt when mutual hostilities erupted between rival factions in the country’s leadership.

The civil war between forces loyal to the country’s president Salva Kiir on one hand, and forces loyal to the vice-president Riek Machar on the other, came at a heavy cost to the civilian population. A peace agreement between the parties from 2015 was broken in 2016 when once again fierce hostilities erupted.

Norwegian development aid played a key role in South Sudan before its independence, and Norway has also given extensive development aid to the new nation. Emergency assistance and support for good governance have constituted the main sectors. Significant aid for health and education has also been provided.

Challenging humanitarian work

Several factors have led to the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.

Long-term hostilities, a worsening security situation, lack of access to regions, unclear power structures, bureaucratic barriers, poor infrastructure, informal customs stations along transport routes, as well as the rainy season, make humanitarian work extremely difficult. 

Since the end of 2013, more than 80 aid workers have been killed, making South Sudan one of the world’s most dangerous countries for aid workers to operate in.
The authorities have published financial requirements for humanitarian agencies. A fee of up to USD 10.000 for work permits has been suggested.

The government has withdrawn this proposal due to the international reaction. However, the authorities have indicated that they will come back with revised tariffs.
In March 2017, Sudan allowed for the opening of humanitarian corridors into the northern regions of South Sudan. An open corridor has already existed from 2014, and a third corridor was announced in October 2017.

Neighbouring countries have received the main migration from South Sudan as a result of people fleeing from war. However, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that the number of refugees from neighbouring countries to South Sudan is now approaching 280.000 and this trend is increasing.

Several thousand people cross the borders to neighbouring countries daily. The flow of refugees places the host countries in a vulnerable situation.

Human rights

The human rights situation in the country is serious. Arrests and imprisonment without due process of law are widespread.

Ethnically motivated killings, sexual violence against women and children, and abuse of persons with disability are exacerbated by the conflict.

Media and journalists are exposed to harassment, threats and censorship. These constrictions also apply to think tanks, civil society and human rights activists.
Well-known persons who have come forward and given their testimonies to the UN have been interrogated on their return to Sudan.

Impunity in cases of abuse is endemic and increasing.


The economic situation in South Sudan is disastrous.

From December 2015 to the start of 2017, the South Sudanese pound lost 95 per cent of its value against the US dollar.

South Sudan’s total annual inflation from August 2016 to August 2017 was 165 per cent.

Norwegian development cooperation with South Sudan

Norway’s objectives for support to South Sudan are peace, stability and improved security.

Because of hostilities in Juba and the worsening humanitarian situation, many of the funds planned for long-term programmes were reprioritised for humanitarian efforts and education.

The increase in humanitarian support is mainly channelled through OCHA’s South Sudan Humanitarian Fund.
An increased investment in education in 2017 was channelled through Norwegian NGOs and UNICEF.

Total development aid to Sudan amounted to NOK 603.9 million in 2017.

• For specific details on aid funding, see the statistics portal Norwegian Aid Statistics

Oil for Development

Oil production in South Sudan has fallen from 165 000 barrels in 2014 to 120 000 barrels per day. Revenue from this sector has fallen dramatically, even with rising oil prices. The national budget is entirely dependent on oil revenues for its financing.
A proposed agreement for a new phase of Norway’s Oil for Development programme was prepared, but it was decided to postpone it due to the worsening security situation since July 2016.

Liberation of child soldiers

The UN estimates that 17 000 children are affiliated in various ways with armed groups in South Sudan. The number has been increasing since the hostilities in Juba in 2016.

Through support to UNICEF’s targeted programme, around 1 900 former child soldiers were liberated and received help to reintegrate into civilian society.

Civil society

Norway supports the strengthening of peace and reconciliation work at local level through Justice for Africa. Norwegian Church Aid is also heavily involved in peace and reconciliation work through the churches.

Mediation and reconciliation processes initiated in, for example, Jonglei, Lakes and Ekvatoria in 2017 have resulted in local cessation of hostilities.

BBC Media Action – Life in Lulu

Support to BBC Media Action went to development and broadcasting of a popular radio programme, Life in Lulu.

The programme addressed key interpersonal issues such as conflict, conflict management and reconciliation.

In 2016, the programme reached 900 000 listeners, and was broadcast in Arabic, Nuer and Dinka.

The BBC’s monitoring team registered that listeners changed their understanding and also to some degree their behaviour with regard to how conflicts can be dealt with or avoided.

Peace and reconciliation

From 2017, Norway contributed by seconding technical experts via the Norwegian Refugee Council’s emergency response teams.

A security expert and an economist were seconded to the international community’s Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) responsible for monitoring and overseeing the peace agreement.

A security adviser and gender adviser were also seconded to South Sudan’s Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM).

The four experts actively contributed with specialist competence. Their contextual understanding and wide network enabled them to reinforce the Commission’s function and role in implementing the peace agreement, as well as women’s role in the efforts to achieve peace.

National archive

Norway provided South Sudan with a new national archive when the new nation was established in 2011. In 2015, it was decided to postpone the building of the national archive itself.

However, Norway supports the work of cataloguing and securing existing archive material. A total of 8000 documents have been collated and archived, 25 per cent of which are digitally stored.


More than 1.8 million children have no opportunity to attend school. Over 30 per cent of schools have been subject to one or more attacks from armed groups since 2013.

UNICEF’s Back to learning programme is key to providing schooling for South Sudanese children. In 2016, the UN organisation and its partners ensured that 495.000 children in conflict regions received access to education. In addition, almost 50.000 children in more stable regions obtained access to schooling, while 7500 teachers and parent groups were trained in running and maintaining schools with the help of external funding and support, in the absence of any local authorities. Norwegian organisations such as the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and Save the Children Norway played a key role in the implementation of the programme.

Despite the crisis, the difficulty of access and the reduced presence of many partners, the UNICEF programme achieved its target figure for the number of children to be given an opportunity for education.

Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 19.07.2018