South Sudan became an independent state in 2011, separating from Sudan following decades of armed conflict. High hopes for South Sudan’s future were soon dashed when fighting broke out in December 2013, and optimism regarding South Sudan’s prospect for peace has now faded. The country is currently facing famine, ongoing conflict, persistent ethnic tensions and severe economic challenges. The humanitarian crisis and continued fighting across the country have led to large-scale forced displacement.
This case study examines conditions within South Sudan as a major country of origin in today’s refugee crisis. In 2016, South Sudan became the largest refugee crisis in sub-Saharan Africa, and the world’s third largest after Syria and Afghanistan. More importantly, this case study looks at the conditions of South Sudanese who are forcibly displaced. It underscores the linkages between the large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and South Sudanese refugee populations abroad, and reviews past efforts to help returnees resettle back in the country. The case study also highlights the importance of understanding local contexts and root causes of conflict and displacement. Finally, it reviews evaluations of past donor programmes in South Sudan, including past efforts at state building, which suggest that learning within the international community could be significantly improved.