A woman in refugee camp

A woman walks through the Protection of Civilians area inside the United Nations base in Malakal, South Sudan. Some 35,000 people live in the camp, protected by UN peacekeeping troops.


The world's youngest nation—of nearly 11 million people—gained independence in 2011, but more than 12 years later, the churches are concerned new emergencies are complicating the work of peace, reconciliation, and healing.

A large part of the population continues to live on relief aid or are in need of it, due to a combination of factors – including insecurity and inter-ethnic violence. More than four million people are displaced, with over two million being internally displaced and 2.2 million being refugees in the neighbouring countries.

“…the security situation is not improving, with increased inter-communal violence resulting in civilian casualties, new displacements, and a very insecure environment for aid workers,” said Rev. James Oyet Latansio, general secretary of the South Sudan Council of Churches. Beyond the huge logistical challenges, South Sudan continues to be among the most dangerous countries for humanitarian workers, with 34 of them killed in 2023.”

The countrys churches have been reaching millions of citizens with peace building messages and activities, which advocate for healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and give hope to the communities.

The country hopes to hold general elections in December, but while the citizens’ focus is a peaceful transition, election preparedness, and peaceful election for economic stability, church leaders are concerned insecurity may complicate the exercise.

The church expects local, regional, and international support both technically and financially to support the church in advancing its mission of preaching healing, forgiveness, reconciliation, and giving hope,” said the priest.

This year, humanitarian agencies predict that nine million people in South Sudan—54 percent of them children—will require humanitarian assistance. At the peak of the lean season from April-July, over seven million will become severely food insecure.

 “Compounded with the consequences of climate change, macro-economic shocks, and the consequences of the war in Sudan, South Sudan is sinking further into the worst humanitarian crisis since independence,” said Latansio.

Now, flooding linked to the global climate change crisis has triggered fears of serious food shortages in some areas.

I was in Unity state and Ruweng administrative area. I visited some local churches and there are a lot of fears about lack of food because of the flooding in Unity State. Because of the flood water, many people are in internally displaced person [camps] and economic conditions are not stable in Juba [city],” said Rev. Thomas Tut Puot Mut, moderator of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church said while highlighting inter-communal conflicts in Abyei and Jinglei States.

The most affected are women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, with over 1.4 million children expected to suffer acute malnutrition this year.

Apart from the food shortages, many of children are out of school due to insecurity and the fear of forcefully being recruited as soldiers, according to Catholic Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Yambio – Tombura Diocese.

This has caused the number of out-of-school children to soar with the majority of these…quickly becoming street children. This…rising numbers of street children, if not addressed immediately, will impact negatively on the countrys security,” said Kussala.

At the same time, the churches are aiding thousands of returnees and refugees ejected by the war in Sudan, through the distribution of food and other basic needs. The country hosts 400,000 refugees, including over 110,000, recent arrivals from Sudan and more than 450,000 who are returning.

WCC member churches in South Sudan