Go to main content

Tens of thousands on brink of famine

South Sudan

Famine was declared in several regions of South Sudan last week: 4.5 million people, half of the country’s population, are surviving on what they ca--n find or facing starvation. Xavier Duvauchelle, head of the Eastern and Southern Africa Desk at Handicap International, explains more.

A Handicap International team in Melut in the north of the country at the end of 2015

© Handicap International

It’s a disaster. Tens of thousands of people risk dying of hunger over the coming weeks. Four years of civil war have taken their toll and the country is highly disorganised. Clashes between armed groups have made it difficult for humanitarian aid to reach some regions. The number of people displaced by food shortages increases daily and more than three million people in South Sudan have already fled the fighting, many of them to neighbouring countries. In response to this latest emergency, our teams in the field are considering what action to take, in coordination with other humanitarian organisations present on the ground.”


“We’re particularly worried about people with disabilities. Our aim is to make sure their needs are taken into account by humanitarian groups, including access to food aid. It is very chaotic, so communities and families frequently leave people with disabilities behind. They often live in remote areas and find it harder than the rest of the population to access humanitarian aid.”


The crisis

According to UN agencies, 100,000 people are on the verge of starvation in several regions of South Sudan. Almost 5 million people urgently need food, agriculture and nutrition assistance. The famine has been caused by drought in several countries in the region - Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, South Sudan and Tanzania - since the end of 2016. Twenty million people urgently need humanitarian assistance. The country worst hit is South Sudan.


Handicap International and South Sudan

Handicap International has worked in South Sudan since 2006. The country has been gripped by civil war since 2013. Based in the capital Juba, the mission has fifty staff members. Handicap International mostly provides response to displaced people. Its actions are focused on protection, rehabilitation care and psychosocial support. It also combats discrimination against people with disabilities.

Where your







Help them

To go further

Violence and trauma: the mental health needs of South Sudanese refugees
Philippa Russell / HI
Emergency Health

Violence and trauma: the mental health needs of South Sudanese refugees

More than 1 million people have fled from South Sudan to neighbouring Uganda since the outbreak of civil war in 2013. Many have witnessed or experienced violence, including forced displacement, rape and indiscriminate killing. Handicap International (HI) is providing psychosocial support to respond to the complex and urgent mental health needs of refugees. 

South Sudan Refugee Crisis: “We left without our parents”
© P.Meinhardt / Handicap International
Supporting the Displaced Populations/Refugees

South Sudan Refugee Crisis: “We left without our parents”

The refugee crisis in South Sudan is one of the most alarming humanitarian situations in the world. Millions of South Sudanese are fleeing from brutal violence and extensive food insecurity. 86% of those who seek safety in neighbouring countries are women and children, including at least 75,000 children who have become separated from their families, many of whom are in poor health.

Leaving everything behind to feed your family
© P.Meinhardt / Handicap International
Emergency Supporting the Displaced Populations/Refugees

Leaving everything behind to feed your family

The food crisis in East Africa is creating unprecedented numbers of refugees. Up to 80% of refugees are women and children who can no longer find enough food to survive. Rose and her children now live in a refugee camp in Kenya, but they still face many difficulties.