Skip to content Skip to cookie consent
Tearfund home

‘Bring forgotten crises back into focus this Refugee Week’ says Tearfund

70% of people in the world’s newest nation in need of humanitarian assistance. The church in South Sudan is responding.

Written by Esther Trewinnard | 17 Jun 2024

  • 70% of people in the world’s newest nation in need of humanitarian assistance.
  • The church in South Sudan is responding to a forgotten humanitarian crisis with support from Tearfund’s match funded summer appeal.

1 in 3 people have had to flee their homes, either internally or across the border, since 2013 in South Sudan. Tearfund’s Country Director in South Sudan, Erickson Bisetsa, is urging donors not to forget the ongoing crisis.

This refugee week (17-23 June) Tearfund has launched an appeal that will provide access to water, agricultural and livelihoods expertise, peacebuilding and trauma counselling for people living in poverty around the world.

“It’s my prayer that this refugee week the world will bring its focus back to supporting forgotten crises, like the crisis of a huge gap in funding that we are experiencing in South Sudan. Since the outbreak of war in neighbouring Sudan 600,000 people have fled back home to this country, but we were already struggling to stretch limited resources and food supplies. 9 million people in South Sudan are in need of humanitarian assistance. That’s 70% of the total population,” he explains.

With so much need and a huge gap in funding resources for multiple humanitarian crises globally, Tearfund’s South Sudan team are once again teaming up with the local church to light a beacon of hope and encouragement in the world’s newest nation.

“Churches know the needs of their communities and how best to respond with the resources available to them. In times of crisis, people turn to the Church for help. They are often the first to respond and will continue to serve the community in practical ways before, during and after a crisis. In the context of the extreme poverty that we see in South Sudan, the words of Jesus, who teaches us to love our neighbour, have never been more relevant.” explains Erickson Bisetsa, Tearfund Country Director in South Sudan.

“Our Transforming Communities programme offers training to women, youth and other disadvantaged groups to increase their participation in local and national peacebuilding and community development. The programme establishes self help groups so that skills and expertise can be shared more widely in the community to support vulnerable people to integrate into local markets and access income-generating opportunities. One of the core objectives of the programme is to reduce dependency on humanitarian aid, which is increasingly under pressure.”

Mary, a mother to 5 children, who previously fled to neighbouring Uganda due to conflict in South Sudan has now returned to rebuild her life and community in Kajo-Keji. She describes how the programme changed her life and mindset:

‘Before I received this training, I was traumatised. Now, I am happy. I am free from trauma and l enjoy good sleep and good health. I am now independent. Before, I only thought about who would support me, but this teaching has helped me to become self-reliant.

‘I identified one of the God-given resources around me as the soil to make bricks. So, I took a small loan and hired people to lay bricks to construct my home. Then, I decided to lay bricks and fire them myself. After paying back the loan for laying the bricks, I went back to my group to take another loan to increase the size of my tiny house.

‘Because of the training, I am also farming. My family no longer faces hunger. And I was able to pay my children's school fees. These are the benefits I have gained from the training.’

For more information about the work of Tearfund or to donate, please visit or call 020 3906 3906.


Mary smiles as she holds up one of the bricks that she has made.

Mary, 42, is a returning refugee having fled to Uganda during conflict. Mary took part in Tearfund’s Transforming Communities programme and is now focusing on rebuilding her life and the local community in Kajo-Keji, South Sudan. Credit: Tom Price/Tearfund 2024

Mary in Kajo-Keji stands with a pile of the bricks she has made.

Mary, 42, started making and firing bricks to build her new home. Now she sells bricks to other people returning home and rebuilding their homes and communities. Credit: Tom Price/Tearfund 2024

Mary and her children smile as they sit together on chairs outside under the shade of a big tree

Mary, 42, is pictured here with her children in Kajo-Keji, South Sudan. They were refugees in Uganda, but lack of food and basic necessities there forced them to return. Tearfund's local church partner has helped them start to rebuild their lives and now Mary says, 'My family no longer faces hunger. And I was able to pay my children's school fees.' Credit: Tom Price/Tearfund

For further information or interview requests with Erickson Bisetsa call Esther Trewinnard on 07783 409045 or for out of hours media enquiries please call 07929 339813.

Notes to editors:

  • Between 17th June and 11 August Tearfund’s appeal will be match-funded thanks to the support of a group of generous Tearfund supporters.
  • South Sudan has this month been listed among the top ten most neglected displacement crises in the world.
  • South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation and home to more than 11 million people. The country gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011 as the outcome of a 2005 agreement that ended Africa's longest-running civil war. However, civil war has broken out multiple times since, driving millions of people from their homes.
  • The humanitarian situation in South Sudan remains dire, with more than two-thirds of the population (72%) needing some form of humanitarian assistance and protection.
  • 7.1 million people are expected to experience severe food insecurity between April and July 2024, with thousands living in famine-like conditions. Undernutrition remains at critical levels for 1.4 million children.
  • As of July 2023, there are 2.3 million internally displaced people in South Sudan and nearly 2.4 million displaced refugees from South Sudan around the world.
  • The country is ranked 192 out of 193 on the UN’s human development index.

Why Tearfund works with the church in South Sudan

  • At Tearfund we strongly believe in the power of the Church. Tearfund itself grew out of the generosity and compassion of the Church in the UK. Millions of lives have been changed as a result.
  • The Church – in all its various guises and denominations – is the largest civil organisation on the planet. For more than 50 years, Tearfund has worked through the local church. We work with the Church because it works. Churches know the needs of their communities and how best to respond with the resources available to them. They often hold positions of influence. In times of crisis, the Church is always the first to arrive and the last to leave.
  • Tearfund works through local churches because this transforms whole communities. Our church partners provide training that enables them to realise their God-given potential. People are empowered to lift themselves out of poverty for good.
  • For example, according to Tearfund’s new study, people who engaged with our church training and investment programme were 62% more likely to invest in assets eg. animals, land, a house or business.
  • They were also 51% more likely to have the same or higher earnings than last year.

Tearfund is a Christian charity that partners with churches in more than 50 of the world’s poorest countries. We tackle poverty through sustainable development, responding to disasters and challenging injustice. We believe an end to extreme poverty is possible. Tearfund is also a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee. For more information about the work of Tearfund, please visit

Written by

Written by  Esther Trewinnard

Share this page

Share this page to spread the word and help support those in need.

Get our email updates

Learn about our work and stay in touch with Tearfund. Hear about our news, activities and appeals by email.

Sign up now - Get our email updates

Cookie preferences

Your privacy and peace of mind are important to us. We are committed to keeping your data safe. We only collect data from people for specific purposes and once that purpose has finished, we won’t hold on to the data.

For further information, including a full list of individual cookies, please see our privacy policy.

  • These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

  • These cookies allow us to measure and improve the performance of our site. All information these cookies collect is anonymous.

  • These allow for a more personalised experience. For example, they can remember the region you are in, as well as your accessibility settings.

  • These cookies help us to make our adverts personalised to you and allow us to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns.