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South Sudan Refugee Crisis Explained

Map of Africa highlighting SouthSudanNearly 2.3 million South Sudanese have fled to neighboring countries and 1.87 million remain internally displaced in South Sudan due to violent conflict throughout the country. It is the largest refugee crisis in Africa and the third largest refugee crisis in the world.

Here's What You Need to Know:

1. Isn't South Sudan the newest country in the world? Why are people fleeing?

2. Who is fleeing South Sudan?

3. Where are South Sudanese refugees living now?

4. How is UNHCR working to prevent sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) among South Sudanese refugees?

5. When will South Sudanese refugees be able to return home?

Isn’t South Sudan the newest country in the world? Why are people fleeing?

South Sudan was established as a new country in 2011 after a deadly civil war. Unfortunately, only two years later, in 2013, conflict broke out in the new country, leading to a complex and dangerous situation of armed conflict, economic decline, disease and hunger. This conflict has forced millions to flee and left millions more displaced inside the country.

Young ment from South Sudan look out a window

Who is fleeing South Sudan?

The vast majority (over 80 percent) of those fleeing South Sudan are women and children, with children making up 63 percent of the total South Sudanese refugee population. They are survivors of violent attacks, sexual assault and, in many cases, children have been separated from their parents and are traveling alone.

Little girl from South Sudan

Where are South Sudanese refugees living now?      

The majority of South Sudanese refugees are living in neighboring countries such as Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp and its expansion site, Kalobeyei settlement, host more than 106,000 South Sudanese refugees, one of the largest South Sudanese refugee populations in the world. UNHCR is embracing innovation to give refugees living in Kakuma opportunities for success. For example, Kakuma hosted the world’s first TED Talk in a refugee camp and a refugee-led hackathon.

Smiling South Sudanese mother holds her baby

How is UNHCR working to prevent sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) among South Sudanese refugees?

To mitigate the risks of SGBV, UHNCR works closely with partner agencies and refugee and host communities to build safe shelters, conduct awareness campaigns, strengthen referral mechanisms and sensitize communities on the importance of combatting the problem. UNHCR has established a safe haven system in which volunteer “guardian angels” open up their homes to protect and support South Sudanese refugees who have survived SGBV. UNHCR and partner organizations have also been conducting awareness sessions about female genital mutilation. So far in 2019, more than 700 South Sudanese refugees have participated in these sessions.

South Sudanese women in a classroom raise their hands

When will South Sudanese refugees be able to return home?

UNHCR is neither facilitating nor promoting refugee returns to South Sudan, as the current conditions are not yet conducive for durable, safe and dignified returns. However, UNHCR recognizes the refugees’ right to return to South Sudan and is protecting refugees who’ve decided to do so on their own. In February 2019, an estimated 800 South Sudanese refugees returned home from Uganda, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And UNHCR has verified an additional 6,000 internally displaced people who have returned to their villages.

Now is your chance to help refugees...

Monthly giving is the most convenient, effective and efficient way you can help people fleeing conflict. Start making a lifesaving difference today. Please become USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor.

May 1 2019
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