South Sudan

Casualties and Victim Assistance

Last updated: 09 October 2017

Summary action points based on findings

  • Expand programs in line with significant unmet needs.
  • Improve economic inclusion opportunities for mine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) survivors and other persons with disabilities, which have remained low since 2012.
  • Adopt and implement the proposed national disability policy.

Victim assistance commitments

The Republic of South Sudan is responsible for a significant number of landmine survivors, cluster munition victims, and survivors of other ERW who are in need. South Sudan has made commitments to provide victim assistance through the Mine Ban Treaty.

Victim Assistance

As of the end of 2016, 3,557 mine/ERW survivors had been identified in South Sudan.[1] In 2011, the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare (MGCSW) estimated that there were a total of some 50,000 mine/ERW victims, including survivors, their families, and the immediate family members of people killed.[2]

Victim assistance since 2015

As a result of decades of conflict, mine/ERW survivors in South Sudan have lacked basic services of all kinds. The limited services available have been almost entirely provided by international organizations. Emergency medical care has been inadequate to address the needs of mine/ERW survivors and others wounded as a result of the armed conflict, a situation worsened by the high number of casualties caused by the outbreak of violence at the end of 2013. Continuing medical care reaches just a fraction of the population. Despite the very challenging security situation, there have been some improvements in the availability of physical rehabilitation for mine/ERW survivors.

Economic inclusion initiatives for mine/ERW survivors implemented by national organizations, including survivor associations and disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) fell away in mid-2012 when international funding through the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) ended. Psychological support for mine/ERW survivors is entirely absent in South Sudan. This significantly reduced, among other things, economic inclusion opportunities for mine/ERW survivors. The South Sudan Landmine Victims Association (SSLMVA) reported a decline in availability of services across all pillars of victim assistance.

The South Sudan National Mine Action Strategic Plan 2012–2016 included victim assistance . The Victim Assistance Coordination Group changed its name to the Victim Assistance and Disability Working Group, expressing closer ties with disability rights frameworks, while steps were taken to integrate victim assistance and disability into the work of all relevant government ministries.

In December 2013, a violent conflict began, and continued through 2016, causing a protracted crisis and disrupting victim assistance efforts. Nearly 2 million people have been displaced by the current conflict, and previous conflicts; many reside in UN “protection-of-civilians” sites. Another million people fled to neighboring countries. Basic commodities are unavailable and security concerns have limited the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide goods and services.[3] Rural areas with poor roads and little infrastructure as well as NGOs restricted in compounds and other accessibility restrictions, such as some sites only accessible by World Food Programme (WFP) planes, further impeded service delivery.[4]

South Sudan is characterized by a continuum between emergency and development with regular chronic crises, periods of stability, and periods of massive emergency.

Victim assistance in 2016

In 2016, the ongoing conflict caused widespread displacement and hindered the provision of services to survivors. The government of South Sudan reports a lack of funding for victim assistance programming and services for persons with disabilities. In addition, UNMAS did not have victim assistance included in its mandate for South Sudan.[5] However, incremental increases have been seen in several areas that need to be built upon.

Assessing victim assistance needs

No assessments of the needs of survivors were carried out by the government of South Sudan or other actors in 2016. Before the current outbreak of violence, several needs assessment projects were conducted.

Victim assistance coordination[6]

Government coordinating body/focal point

Director General of Social Welfare within the MGCSW

Coordinating mechanism

Coordination forum co-chaired by the Director General of the MGCSW and the Director of Victim Assistance, National Mine Action Authority


South Sudan National Mine Action Strategic Plan 2012–2016


The Coordination Forum for Victim Assistance, co-chaired by the MGCSW and the National Mine Action Authority, had a monthly meeting scheduled for 2016, but only seven meetings were formally held due to time constraints for the participants. The meetings provided an opportunity to share information among stakeholders and identify tasks in the case that funding became available.[7] Other meetings were held by stakeholders for the planning of specific events, such as the 3 December celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disability.[8]

In 2016, no progress was made toward the first victim assistance objectives of the Mine Action Strategic Plan 2012–2016.[9] The three victim assistance objectives were:

  • Establish an information system for persons with disabilities to provide reliable, systematic, and comprehensive information on persons with disabilities, including landmine and ERW victims;
  • Accede to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the end of 2013[10] and adopt the necessary national laws to protect the rights of landmine/ERW survivors and persons with disabilities; and
  • Ensure equal access to rehabilitation, psychosocial (including peer support), and socio-economic inclusion services for all landmine and ERW victims, as well as women, girls, boys, and men with disabilities.[11]

South Sudan did not make victim assistance-related statements at the Mine Ban Treaty Fifteenth Meeting of States Parties in Santiago, Chile, or at the June 2017 intersessional meetings. South Sudan’s Article 7 report included some information on victim assistance in Form J, but did not report on activities related to the Maputo Action Plan as expected.[12]

Inclusion and participation in victim assistance

Representatives of DPOs were included in the meetings of the Coordination Forum on Victim Assistance. Landmine survivors and persons with disabilities also participate in the National Commission for Widows, War-Wounded and Orphans, and are members of local development committees and DPOs. There is no federation of DPOs or national disability council.[13] A person with a disability was appointed to the National Constitutional Review Commission, but the individual has not seen any proposed interventions accepted by the commission.[14]

Service accessibility and effectiveness

Victim assistance activities[15]

Name of organization

Type of organization

Type of activity

Changes in quality/coverage of service in 2016



Referrals for rehabilitation and prosthetic services; small business training; micro-grants for business start-up, psycho-social counseling; management of the Physical Rehabilitation Center, Juba (PRC)

Increase in economic inclusion activities and counseling activities; increased geographic coverage; increased number of PRC beneficiaries



Victim assistance coordination


Ministry of Social Development of Central Equatoria and Lakes States


Physical rehabilitation through the Rumbek Center and the Nile Assistance for the Disabled Center in Juba


Central Equatorial State Government


Physical rehabilitation and psychosocial counseling through the Juba Rehabilitation Center (national referral center)


Light for the World

International NGO

Community-based rehabilitation (CBR); accessibility

Increased number of persons supported by CBR; development of sign language dictionary

Handicap International (HI)

International NGO

Basic rehabilitation services; training for health professionals in rehabilitation; needs assessment; referrals for victim assistance services; awareness-raising and advocacy on disability rights

Increased economic inclusion and psychological support activities

Organization of Volunteers for International Cooperation (OVCI)

International NGO

Community-based rehabilitation in Kator and Munuki districts, Juba, occupational therapy



International organization

Emergency first-aid to conflict casualties and capacity-building for health centers’ emergency response; support for national Rehabilitation Reference Center (Juba) and Rumbek Rehabilitation Center; Physical Rehabilitation Unit in Wau

Increased number of beneficiaries of rehabilitation services. Launched orthopedic referral clinic in Waat


Emergency and continuing medical care

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continued to be a key provider of emergency medical care and surgical services in South Sudan. The ICRC supports several clinics that provide primary health services; the ICRC runs three hospital-based surgical teams and two “roving” surgical teams.[16] The ICRC also provided supplies and logistical support to hospitals and health centers. It also specifically tracks and reports on weapon-wounded patients, including landmine and ERW casualties who are treated at ICRC-supported facilities.[17]

Physical rehabilitation including prosthetics

The ICRC provided free services to persons with disabilities at three rehabilitation centers, which in 2016, collectively served more persons with disabilities than in 2015. The ICRC also established an orthopedic referral center at a health clinic it supports in Waat. At the Juba and Rumbek centers, infrastructure improvements mean they are now physically accessible. The Juba clinic hired more staff to increase production. In Wau, the ICRC rehabilitation center added a center for orthopedic production.[18]

HI improved access to basic rehabilitation services and provided training to health, rehabilitation, and social professionals. HI also established a rehabilitation room at Bor Hospital and distributed mobility devices at the hospital, as well as in remote communities. Beneficiaries also receive livelihood support. HI trained health workers in Yei town on physical rehabilitation and continued to support rehabilitation activities at Yei hospital and two health clinics. HI also provided support for some persons to receive rehabilitation services in Juba from the ICRC-supported facilities.[19]

Light for the World continued to run its CBR program in South Sudan benefiting thousands of people.[20]

Economic inclusion

HI, with support from UNMAS, provided training to hundreds of mine/ERW survivors and persons with disabilities on small business management. Trainees also received micro-grants to launch their enterprises.[21] While working jointly with local organizations, HI used the personalized social support approach to individually case-manage assistance to each beneficiary. HI increased skills training and small grants’ distribution for persons with disabilities and mine/ERW survivors to strengthen the livelihoods component of the project in response to needs identified during the implementation stage.[22]

The MGCSW reported increases in vocational training programs for survivors and persons with disabilities as well as work placement activities and small grants for income generation.[23]

Psychological support and social inclusion

The MGCSW supports the deployment of psychosocial counselors via a CBR program.[24]

In Juba, HI worked on the structure of the national level mental health policy and to the capacities of professionals through training courses and guidance. This project included assistance through the provision of technical resources to the psychiatric unit of Juba Teaching Hospital, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and detention authorities of Juba prison.[25] HI also hosted awareness-raising sessions to combat stigma and encourage the inclusion of persons with disabilities. HI also support the construction of ramps and adapted toilets in to make five service providers in Yei town physically accessible.[26]

The ICRC supported a wheelchair basketball team that promoted the rights of persons with disabilities. In partnership with the South Sudan Wheelchair Basketball Association, the ICRC hosts weekly basketball games and the ICRC sponsored a coaching session from a US-based wheelchair basketball coach, who had previously supported wheelchair basketball programs in Afghanistan.[27]

Light for the World started an inclusive football team for women and girls with and without disabilities at the Mahad POC camp as part of its CBR program.[28]

Laws and policies

As of 1 September 2017, South Sudan had not signed the CRPD. In 2016, South Sudan launched the National Disability and Inclusion Policy,[29] which had been in development since 2011.[30] The policy has yet to be funded and in August 2017, the MGCSW was drafting the national plan through which it will implement the policy.[31]

[1] See previous editions of the Landmine Monitor. 

[2] MGCSW, “Victim Assistance Report Southern Sudan for the year 2010 and 2011. Southern Sudan Presentation, On States Party Meeting As From 20 To 24th June, 2011,” provided by Nathan Wojia Pitia Mono, Director General, MGCSW, in Geneva, 24 June 2011.

[3] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” p. 195.

[4] HI, “South Sudan 2016,” November 2016.

[5] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form J.

[6] Ibid.; and response to Monitor questionnaire from Charles Opoka Okumu, Director General of Social Welfare, MGCSW, 7 August 2017.

[7] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Charles Opoka Okumu, MGCSW, 7 August 2017.

[8] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Stephen Okwen Agwet, MGCSW, 14 August 2017.

[9] Responses to Monitor questionnaire from Charles Opoka Okumu, MGCSW, 7 August 2017; and from Stephen Okwen Agwet, MGCSW, 14 August 2017.

[10] Originally a goal that was aimed to be achieved by the end of 2012. South Sudan has yet to accede to the Convention.

[11] “South Sudan National Mine Action Strategic Plan 2012–2016,” June 2012, p. vii.

[12] Committee on Victim Assistance, “Preliminary Observations,” 8 June 2017.

[13] Responses to Monitor questionnaire from Charles Opoka Okumu, MGCSW, 7 August 2017; and from Stephen Okwen Agwet, MGCSW, 14 August 2017.

[14] Coalition of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (South Sudan Association of the Visually Impaired), South Sudan UPR Report–2016, undated.

[15] Responses to Monitor questionnaire from Charles Opoka Okumu, MGCSW, 7 August 2017; and from Stephen Okwen Agwet, MGCSW, 14 August 2017; ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” undated; HI, “South Sudan,” undated; and Light for the World, “South Sudan,” undated.

[16] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” undated, pp. 196–197.

[17] Ibid., p. 200.

[18] Ibid., p. 197.

[19] HI, “South Sudan,” undated.

[20] Light for the World, “South Sudan,” undated.

[21] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Omar Gamdullaev, Victim Assistance Project Manager, HI, 3 April 2016.

[22] HI, “South Sudan 2016,” November 2016.

[23] Responses to Monitor questionnaire from Charles Opoka Okumu, MGCSW, 7 August 2017; and from Stephen Okwen Agwet, MGCSW, 14 August 2017.

[24] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Charles Opoka Okumu, MGCSW, 7 August 2017; and from Stephen Okwen Agwet, MGCSW, 14 August 2017.

[25] HI, “South Sudan 2016,” November 2016.

[26] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Omar Gamdullaev, HI, 3 April 2016.

[28] Light for the World, “Activity Report 2016/2017,” p. 13.

[29] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Charles Opoka Okumu, MGCSW, 7 August 2017.

[30] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Nathan Pitia, MGCSW, 10 May 2013. 

[31] “National disability policy launched,” Juba Monitor, 4 December 2016; and response to Monitor questionnaire from Charles Opoka Okumu, MGCSW, 7 August 2017.