South Sudan is the worlds youngest nation, gaining their independence from Sudan in 2011 after 3 decades of civil war.
In December 2013 a new civil war erupted, and has since displaced 3.4 million people.
South Sudan is home to over 60 tribes and is one of the most diverse countries in Africa.
Before the civil war Old Fangak was home to about 5,000 people, with another 10,000 living in the surrounding area. But the war changed everything. The small rural village has become a haven for people fleeing fighting up and down the Nile. These people, officially called Internally Displaced Persons, or IDPs, have become refugees in their own country. Since 2014, some 45,000 IDPs have sought refuge in Old Fangak.
The United Nations estimates that
5.2 million people
are in need of humanitarian aid in South Sudan as of April 2018.
Refugees continue to arrive in Old Fangak every day. The vast majority are women and children with urgent needs for food, water, shelter and medical care. Some people come to Old Fangak by chance and others because they heard it was safe. They stay because there is clean water to drink, food in the market, and a fully functioning clinic.
Located in northeastern South Sudan, Old Fangak is primarily home to people of the Nuer tribe. It sits on the Zaraf River, a branch of the Nile, in one of the largest swamps in the world: the Sudd. There are no roads to Old Fangak, and it is only accessible by boat or small aircraft.
Remote & Isolated
Like our home state of Alaska, most of South Sudan can only be reached by plane or boat. There are no roads across most of the country, and certainly none in the Sudd - a swamp that can swell to the size of France during the rainy season. In Old Fangak there are no modern amenities - no electricity, no sewage system, no cell phone reception, no running water.
South Sudan has the third largest refugee crisis in the world.
3.5 million people have fled their homes.
6 in 10 refugees are children.
50,000 people have been been killed since 2013.
of the women sheltering in UN camps have been raped.
An estimated 16,000 children have been recruited as child soldiers.
As of February 10, 2017
children will die
before the age of five
of people don't have access to clean water
people facing severe food insecurity
Women are more likely to die during childbirth than they are to get a high school education.
*South Sudan has the highest Maternal Mortality rate in the world.
The Civil War
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, but peace was short-lived. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement SPLM), the ruling political party that led the country to independence, is now divided and fighting for power.
In December 2013, violence erupted in the streets of the capital, Juba, after President Salva Kiir accused former Vice President Riek Machar of an attempted coup. Fighting spread across the country within days.
Violence displaced 413,000 civilians in the first month of conflict. Tens of thousands of people rushed to seek refuge. It's been ongoing for the last three years. UN bases have been converted into makeshift refugee camps. 3.5 million people have been forced from their homes. Several peace agreements have been signed over the years, but they have been repeatedly violated.
On top of the violence, the conflict has propelled the country's economy into crisis — the South Sudanese Pound has declined in value, and the cost of goods and services has skyrocketed. Inflation is at 835% — the highest in the world. And in early 2017 a famine was declared in parts of South Sudan, leaving 100,000 people on the verge of starvation.