Peacekeepers with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), on patrol close to the Protection of Civilians site in Bor, South Sudan

South Sudan Young country at high risk of becoming a failed state

In 2011, South Sudan had declared its independence from the Republic of the Sudan. But the government broke apart in 2013. The causes of the conflict are mainly rooted in the current unfair distribution of political power and economic resources, which has emerged over time and is based, in particular, on ethnic criteria. 
After years of civil war, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit and former Vice President Riek Machar, who had returned from exile, signed a peace agreement in September 2018. The agreement was hoped to end the civil war in South Sudan, which began in 2013. Even if the peace process has only been progressing slowly, Sudan was able to take another important step towards peace in February 2020, when a transitional government was formed.

Humanitarian crisis

However, the war has had severe consequences. According to United Nations data, more than seven of the country's twelve million people are in need of humanitarian aid. Over 4.5 million people are affected by food insecurity, in some cases extreme food insecurity. And the civil war has triggered one of Africa's biggest refugee crises. An estimated 1.6 million people have been internally displaced, and some 2.3 million people are reported to have fled to neighbouring countries (as at January 2021).

There is a huge need for international assistance and for alleviating human suffering. 

Development cooperation

Due to the political situation, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has suspended its direct cooperation with the Government of South Sudan for the time being. Ongoing projects have been adjusted so that measures that take effect comparatively rapidly can mitigate the acute impact of violence.

The BMZ's work in the country focuses on food security and support for particularly vulnerable groups, such as women, children, refugees, internally displaced persons, and communities hosting large numbers of refugees.

UN compound in the capital city of Juba, which was converted into a camp for IDPs from 2014

Recurring eruptions of violence Internal link

A clear majority of 98.8 per cent of the people of southern Sudan voted for complete independence from the Republic of the Sudan in January 2011. On 9 July 2011, the change was made official when South Sudan declared its independence and became a sovereign state.

Two men fetch water from a public well with a bicycle.

The population is suffering Internal link

The current United Nations Human Development Index ranks South Sudan 186th out of 189 countries assessed. Little data is available from the fragile state.

Straßenzene in Dschuba, der Hauptstadt Südsudans

Lack of stability prevents development Internal link

South Sudan is rich in natural resources (oil, gold, diamonds, silver, various ores, water resources, luxury timber, fertile land, and many species of wild animals). However, the absence of government institutions, political instability and massive mismanagement are preventing the use of these resources for the benefit of the people.

German development cooperation with South Sudan

Germany has been engaged in development cooperation with Sudan since 1972. Cooperation with the Republic of the Sudan was suspended in 1989 because of the civil war. As early as in 2006, the German government began to assist the southern part of Sudan through development cooperation.

However, in response to the first eruption of violence in December 2013 and the new outbreak of the civil war in mid-2016, Germany readjusted its development cooperation with South Sudan so as to minimise direct contact with the government. Direct cooperation with the government was stopped, and activities under transitional development assistance (crisis recovery and rehabilitation) and under the BMZ's special initiatives on displacement and on hunger were expanded significantly.

The primary goal of German activities in South Sudan is to provide support, as directly as possible and with the quickest possible impact, to vulnerable groups such as women and children, internally displaced persons, refugees and host communities. The intention of the activities is to alleviate the impact of the civil war on the people and the suffering that it has caused.

Support for UN organisations and non-governmental organisations

Bundesentwicklungsminister Gerd Müller im März 2014 beim Besuch eines Camps für Binnenflüchtlinge auf dem Gelände der UN-Mission UNMISS in Südsudan

Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller in March 2014 visiting a camp for internally displaced persons on the premises of the UN mission UNMISS in South Sudan

Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller in March 2014 visiting a camp for internally displaced persons on the premises of the UN mission UNMISS in South Sudan

The activities which the BMZ supports in South Sudan focus on improving people's food situation and securing their livelihoods. The tense security situation is posing frequent challenges to these activities.

The BMZ also supports programmes run by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). In addition, Germany is supporting the work of numerous non-governmental organisations including faith-based agencies to help improve the living conditions of the people of South Sudan. The thematic focus is on food and agriculture, water and sanitation, education and income generation, and good governance and peacebuilding.

Numerous development activities in the wider region are complementing the BMZ's activities in South Sudan. For example, support is being provided to South Sudan's neighbours Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo with regard to the hosting of refugees from South Sudan.