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Tue, 02/04/2013

South Sudan is the youngest African country, the 193° UN Member Country, the 54° of the African Union, It was born after a long civil war, one of the longest and most devastating of the continent, when it became indipendent from Sudan, the 9th July 2011.

The two long civil war (the first one from 1955 to 1972 and the second one from 1983 to 2005) left the country in a desasperate condition of undevelopment and backwardness, without infrastructures and with the majority of population devoid of the necessary.The Peace Agreement, “Naiyasha Agreement”, signed in 2005, slightly improved the desperate lives conditions of this country, which is still one of the poorest country in the world, but the ultimate goal of the normalization is still far.

After the referendum of February 2011, the country started to build its democratic infrastructures and the 9th July the indipendence of the country has been proclaimed in the presence of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and many Heads of State, among those even the Sudanese President Omar el Bashir.

 In December 2013 heavy clashes erupted in Juba and  the humanitarian situation has worsened dramatically. Clashes are still ongoing, especially in the Upper Nile and Jonglei. It’s extremely hard for the humanitarian operators to reach population in need: many compounds, also the INTERSOS’ ones in Bor and Bentiu, have been attacked and sacked.INTERSOS is concentrating its interventions in Juba, in In Tongping camp, within the UNMISS compound in Juba, where there are more than 17.000 displaced people and in Malakal, in Upper Nile, where repeatd heavy clashes have been reported and more than 12.000 people arrived in the camp.


The emergency in South Sudan concerns hundreds of thousands of people: the local population, the refugees and the internally displaced people.

The local population divided in many tribes with different languages, traditions and somatic are mostly devoted to grazing and subsistence farming. The main difficulty is the food obtaining, due to the lack of water; in addition, there is the rainfall regime which alternates very dry seasons to heavy rains; that obviously reduces the arable lands to swamps. In this case the humanitarian intervention focuses on the digging of wells for drinking water and on the provision of seeds and tools to meet the basic food needs. When it is not possible, basic food needs are met by the distribution of rations.

In addition to the food shortage, it must be mentioned the total lack of the basic health services and infrastructures such as streets, bridges, power lines and all the necessary to bring assistance to the population, especially in the more remote areas of the country. The humanitarian assistance has been guaranteed by the UN agencies, such as the World Food Program, which also guarantees a service of small planes to transport the UN and NGOs’ humanitarian staff.

Apart from the local population, the international community must face the needs of a wide range of REFUGEES, coming from the neighboring countries (DRC, Central African Republic and Blue Nile) particularly present in the State of Western Equatoria and Upper Nile. INTERSOS is coordinating and handling the assistance activities in four refugee camps respectively of 4800 and 3500 people in Western Equatoria and 15500 and 14900 in Upper Nile. The Agency of reference for the Protection of Refugees is the UNHCR, of which INTERSOS is an implementing partner.

About 220,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) are victims of inter-tribes violence, which have been devastating the country. When targeted by their enemy tribe, the affected populations are forced to leave their villages and seek assistance from the IOM, UN Agencies (UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP) and the INGOs. INTERSOS, being part of this emergency response, is primarily focused on providing psychosocial support to victims of violence and to the most vulnerable groups such as women and children.

After the state’s independence in 2011, more than 3.000 refugees left Sudan to come back to their homeland in South Sudan. The huge influx of people that arrived at the border regions between North and South Sudan still constitutes one of the most dramatic emergency situations. During the return tripthese persons are exposed to every kind of danger:  lack of medical care, inadequate food and water supplies, violence perpetrated by groups of irregular fighters that still control some border areas of North and South.

In December 2013, clashes erupted in Juba and are still ongoing in 7 states: thousands of people have been displaced by violence.65.000 people sought refuge within the United Nations peacekeeping bases (UNMISS), that are guaranteeing protection to thousands of civilians. The humanitarian conditions are serious: camps are overcrowded, because of the massive rush of people arriving.  Despite the hard operational context, INTERSOS keeps on providing assistance and protection to the affected population in South Sudan. Nevertheless, thousands of people live in tragic conditions: they urgently need blankets, tents, plastic sheet, food and water, clothes, hygienic kits to avoid epidemics. 

On going intervention

State of Jonglei (intervention started in 2006)

Since December 2011, the inter-tribal disputes, the climatic disasters during the rainy season, and the current clashes embroiling rebel militias with the South Sudanese military and cattle keepers shape the emergency situation in Jonglei State with thousands of displaced people.  INTERSOS that has been active in the state for the past seven years, in 2012 increased its humanitarian intervention by becoming the leader in coordinating the emergency responses for the distribution of Emergency Shelters and Non-Food Items in Jonglei state with a permanent presence in the counties of Pibor and Bor. Furthermore, in Pibor, as in other counties of Jonglei, INTERSOS is responsible for programs of assistance and protection of the most vulnerable (women, children, elderly, HIV patients) and for educational programs in emergency (schools, distribution of materials, teaching and teacher training).

State of Western Equatoria (intervention started in 2009)

In the state of Western Equatoria, we carry out a project of assistance to IDPs in the camps of Yambio, Ezo and Tambura. Moreover, there is a special project dedicated to the management and coordination of the Congolese Refugees Camps of Makpandu (Yambio County) and Napere (Ezo County). Currently, INTERSOS is the state focal point for the emergency response and coordination among the partners for the distribution of Non-Food Items to the beneficiary populations.

State of Warrap and Administrative Area of Abyei  (intervention started in spring 2011)

In 2011, to respond to the Abyei emergency, when the North Army invaded the disputed region of Abyei, causing the escape of 30,000 ethnic Dinka (the major ethnic in South Sudan), Intersos has started an emergency program in the neighboring state of Warrap, where most of the displaced people had sought refuge. In the Twic county, between the centers of Turalei, Mayen Abun and the town of Agok (already included in the disputed administrative area of Abyei), the Intersos staff ensure not only the distribution of essential goods and the construction of latrines, but also the psychological support of those in need.

Upper Nile State (intervention started in summer 2011)

Following the declaration of independence, tens of thousands (by now more than 100,000 units) of southern Sudanese Returnees left Khartoum (and other places of Sudan) to return to their country of origin. The flow of families (many very poor but in some cases also wealthy yet, forced to abandon their properties acquired in many years of refuge in the north) followed two directions: west, along the railroad that ends in Aweil and east, along the road towards Upper Nile State, a place still challenging due to the presence of guerrilla groups at the borders and the extremely difficult geo-climatic conditions that result to a great lack of potable water and food supplies.
INTERSOS operates in this state of South Sudan, through a network of social workers (protection monitors and psychosocial councilors) in the town of Renk, the first point of arrival of the Returnees.

In addition, UNHCR entrusted INTERSOS with the management and the coordination of the Way Station in Malakal, a transitional site for those repatriating back to their homelands. This structure can accommodate up to 675 Returnees, with beds, kitchen, latrines and showers (separate for men and women) in order to ensure basic level of privacy and primary care during their stay in Malakal.

The continuous political upheaval between the Blue Nile populations and the government of Sudan results into heavy military interventions and escalation of violence especially during the dry seasons. As a consequence, an impressive number of inhabitants of that region in the borders of Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia is feeling and seeks refuge in the Upper Nile State, specifically in the Maban County. In this county the number of refugees by the end of 2012 exceeded the 100.000 individuals. To these individuals, the international community provides water, sanitation and hygiene, health, education, protection from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and child protection as main emergency priorities. INTERSOS is committed, in partnership with UNHCR and other international non-governmental agencies to respond to this emergency. In Jamam and Gendrassa refugee camps, INTERSOS continues to implement its project in Child Protection and Education.

State of Unity

In response to the bombings on the North Sudan State (South Kordofan), more than 30,000 people of African and Christian origin (not Muslim and Arab) has taken refuge in the Unity State. INTERSOS has been commissioned by the UNHCR to prepare and install 2 camps (initially with the capacity of hosting 9.000 and 2.000 refugees), which will extend up to accommodate, respectively, 5.000 and 15.000 refugees, especially women and children.
INTERSOS has assembled hundreds of tents, built schools, stores for food supply, latrines, showers and waste landfills; moreover we also provide psychological care for the most vulnerable ones, we coordinate the activities (from registration to reporting cases of people with special needs to their respective facilities, such as hospital and police station).

Intersos in the country

INTERSOS has being in South Soudan since 2006, when the first operational base opened in Bor, the capital of the Jonglei State. Recently, INTERSOS has ascended its activities in this State, which is one of the most troubled by the inter-tribal clashes; unfortunately, because of this reason, there is a rising number of IDPs. To face this exigency, INTERSOS opened in 2010 a base in Pibor, capital of the county which is mostly inhabited by ethnic Murle. Currently, 4 expatriates are living between Bor and Pibor; they are helped by the local staff (consisting of about twenty people).

In 2009 INTERSOS started the so-called "WASH Program" (Water and Sanitation and Hygiene) in the state of Western Equatoria and opened a base in Yambio and in Ezo. In Yambio, 7 expatriates are currently working, including administrators, experts in hydraulic engineering, health, logistics and protection of persons at risk.

Currently INTERSOS is carrying out its emergency humanitarian response in five states of South Sudan (see On-going Intervention). It employs circa 35-40 expatriate expert staff and over 100 national and local staff for the implementation of its projects. The humanitarian intervention covers a wide range of sectors such as wash, sanitation and hygiene, education and child protection, general protection and protection from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and distribution of Non-Food items and Emergency Shelters. It has established strong partnerships with UNHCR, IOM, UNICEF (of which INTERSOS is their implementing partner), WFP, UNOCHA, UNMISS and collaborates closely with other INGOs in the field. During these years INTERSOS is not solely focusing in the South Sudanese emergency context INTERSOS also conducts trainings and organizes campaigns for further capacity building aiming to the empowerment of the beneficiary populations.     

From the field