“There is nothing left for us”: starvation as a method of warfare in South Sudan – Conference room paper of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (A/HRC/45/CRP.3)

Human Rights Council
Forty-fifth session
14 September–7 October 2020
Agenda item 4
Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention


Since December 2013, the armed conflict in South Sudan has provoked a dire humanitarian crisis which has led to the displacement of nearly 4 million women, men, and children. Around 1.67 million people are currently displaced internally, languishing in camps that barely meet their basic needs and subsisting on rapidly diminishing humanitarian aid. South Sudan enjoys the unenviable status of representing the third largest refugee crisis in the world, with over 2.2 million people having fled abroad as refugees and asylum seekers. At present, 7.5 million residents now require humanitarian assistance, and 1.3 million children under the age of five years are predicted to suffer from malnutrition, which is the highest rate of child malnutrition in the past four years.

On-going armed conflict in Central Equatoria, Jonglei, Lakes, Unity, Western Bahr el Ghazal, and Warrap States, as well as in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, continues to obstruct the work of humanitarian actors struggling to ameliorate the crisis. Coinciding with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Sudan on 5 April 2020, prices for staple foods and basic commodities have also escalated drastically, further rendering vulnerable civilians food insecure.

Over the past seven years, the brutal armed conflict has impacted mainly on the civilian population, resulting in acute food insecurity and malnutrition across South Sudan which is manifested by several causes, including both intentional and indirect factors. There has been a spike in food insecurity in Western Bahr el Ghazal and Jonglei States which is linked directly to the conflict and therefore almost entirely humaninduced.

Pervasive human rights violations, as well as deliberate strategies on the part of both Government and opposition forces to use starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, amounting to acts constituting war crimes, have contributed to the food insecurity in Western Bahr el Ghazal, Jonglei, and Central Equatoria States.

Recognising the need to address the crisis, signatories to the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan largely dedicated Chapter III to humanitarian aid and, on 1 October 2019, launched a plan for the return and reintegration of internally displaced persons and refugees titled “the National Framework on Return, Resettlement and Reintegration”. Despite these commitments, the Commission notes with grave concern that implementation remains a challenge for the Government and non-State armed groups, both of which are largely ineffectual in addressing the shocking levels of hunger faced by the citizens of South Sudan.


Source: UN Human Rights Council