This week, the United Nations (UN) declared a famine in South Sudan. The formal announcement comes as people have already started dying of hunger and thousands are fleeing every day to escape starvation and violence. This severe food shortage is a result of a violent, ethnically-charged civil war that’s been ongoing since 2013. Learn more about the crisis and find out how you can make a difference.


Q: When did the civil war begin?

After South Sudan’s independence in 2011, deep ethnic divisions remained. An attempted coup in 2013 ignited a civil conflict between the government and oppositions forces. This fighting intensified in July 2016 after a peace deal between various groups collapsed. Civilians are caught in the middle of that fighting, leading to a surge in refugees fleeing violence to find security in neighboring countries, including Uganda.

Q: How does war lead to famine?

Much of the fighting has centered around South Sudan’s agriculturally rich Equatoria region, where war is now sown instead of food. Due to disrupted farming and surging food prices, food insecurity and malnutrition have worsened since the conflict started three years ago – triggering widespread famine. This violence and hunger has resulted in 1.5 million refugee and asylum-seekers fleeing South Sudan to surrounding countries, according to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.

Q: What exactly is a famine?

A food security crisis becomes a famine when at least 20 percent of households face extreme food shortages. Thirty percent or more of the population must also face acute malnutrition, and the death rate must exceed two people per 10,000 per day.

Q: How many people are affected in South Sudan?

Almost 5 million people, more than 40 percent of the country’s population, are in need of urgent help, UN agencies say. More than 100,000 people are already starving in parts of South Sudan. The UN fears another 1 million people are on the brink of starvation. More than 1.5 million victims have fled to neighboring countries for safety and relief.

Q: How are aid groups helping victims in need?

Due to the violence, it’s extremely difficult to reach the hardest-hit areas to make aid deliveries. Humanitarian aid in the region is already thinly stretched, but it could get even worse. With fewer domestic solutions, more and more victims are fleeing for relief in neighboring countries. Roughly 3,500 refugees per day cross Uganda’s borders. Our teams provide health screenings, emergency medical treatment and referrals for refugees entering the nation. We also provide medical care for refugees living in settlements across the nation, including new camps that are being opened to meet the surging needs.

Q: How is Medical Teams International responding?

Roughly 3,500 refugees per day pour across Uganda’s borders, into cramped intake areas where Medical Teams International provides health screenings and referrals. Malnourishment, malaria and cholera are among the most common issues that we are treating. Of the 1.5 million South Sudanese refugees globally, Medical teams International works in the settlements serving 520,000 of these vulnerable people (and that number is rising as more flee South Sudan).

Key Facts:

  • Over 1.5 million South Sudanese have fled to become refugees, escaping ethnically-charged violence and starvation.
  • Roughly 3,500 refugees per day cross into Uganda, seeking safety and relief.
  • Our teams are working in settlements that serve 520,000 refugees in Uganda, and we’re rapidly expanding our work to meet the growing need.
  • More than 40% of the population of South Sudan are in need of help, UN sources say.

With your help, our teams can help those in need:

Famine and war in South Sudan is impacting millions. Your support is critical to help the thousands who are seeking relief in Uganda. How can you help?

  1. Spread the word by sharing the news on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
  2. Make a donation to our refugee relief programs.
  3. Please pray for the victims affected by this disaster

Your support makes a difference. Donate Now.