Fashoda County, Upper Nile
2016 population projection: 50,629
Major population centers: Kodoc town, Oriny town
Major ethnic group: Communities in Fashoda County are Shilluk.
Medium to uncertain risk of conflict related displacement. OCHA reports significant displacement into and within Fashoda County for the length of the recent conflict, especially along the White Nile River. IDPs have traveled north through the County from Malakal and refugees across the County into Sudan. As of March 2016, more than 300,000 persons are displaced in Upper Nile State as a whole (OCHA). Additionally, OCHA reports that nearly 240,000 South Sudanese have fled north to Sudan. Prior to the civil war, Fashoda County received between 4,000 and 5,000 refugees fleeing violence in Sudan’s region of Southern Kordofan in mid 2013.
*National Bureau of Statistics, Population projections for South Sudan by County
Economy & livelihoods
In 2013, the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) categorized Fashoda County as part of the “Northern Sorghum and Cattle” Livelihood Zone (LZ), while an ACTED report characterized the area as part of the “Eastern Flood Plains” LZ. In both cases, the communities in the area are agro pastoralists. Livelihoods from rain fed agriculture are supplemented by rearing livestock, fishing, and gathering. The main crops grown are sorghum, maize, cowpeas, pumpkin and okra. Goats are the main livestock reared, with sheep and cattle to a lesser extent. The main trade route travels along the White Nile, from Malakal to Renk. Kodoc, the largest town in Fashoda County, lies along this route. The area also has access to external markets across the border in Sudan. Seasonal migrations of pastoralists and their cattle throughout the region can be a source of conflict over pastures, waters, and cattle raiding. The other hazards to livelihood in the area are flooding, drought, livestock disease and crop pests.
The violence in the region since December 2013 has induced large scale displacement, disrupted normal farming cycles, and severely imperiled livelihoods. In 2014, the FAO reported abnormal cattle migrations across the county, as pastoralists traveled west towards Sudan. It is unclear if traditional migratory routes have returned.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
The IPC projected “crisis” levels of food insecurity for Fashoda County for the period January through March 2016. It has consistently projected this level for the county, for the length of the recent conflict. Neighboring Malakal and Baliet Counties were at timers reported to be one classification more food insecurity, reaching “emergency” levels.
Dominant Control during conflict: Currently, Panyikang County is largely under Agwelek control; however, the SPLA controls nearby Malakal town and the opposite banks of the Sobat and While Nile Rivers. The Agweleks are a Shilluk militia led by Johnson Olonyi that was previously aligned with the SPLA. The county was a site of contested control between SPLA and SPLA IO forces during the first years of the conflict.
Fashoda County and much of the west bank of the White Nile River has been under the control of Shilluk forces since February 2016. Olonyi’s Agwelek forces are in Fashoda and Panyikang counties and Johannes Okiech’s Shilluk Tiger Faction New Forces (TFNF) in Manyo County. The east bank of the river is firmly under the control of the SPLA and its associated (Dinka) militia forces. Better armed, the SPLA has forced Olonyi’s Agweleks to withdraw from the immediate banks of the river, which deprives Shilluk civilians of sorely needed access to resources. The SPLA has also used its air power to attack military (and civilian) positions on the west bank.
In the first year and a half of the civil war, Fashoda County was a site of contested control between SPLA and SPLA IO forces. During this time, the local aims of Olonyi—to secure the Shilluk kingdom—and the national aims of the army—to defeat the SPLA–IO— temporarily aligned. Olonyi was commander for the SPLA, recently re integrated from a prior rebellion. Initially, he and other Shilluk leaders fought in support of the government and eventually helped to drive the SPLA IO into Sudan. Following the (local) defeat of the SPLA IO, however, underlying tensions between the Upper Nile State’s Shilluk and Padang Dinka communities reemerged. Tensions escalated in April 2015, when Olonyi’s deputy was killed on the Lul Bridge, which connects Fashoda and Akoka counties. The circumstances surrounding this incident are disputed. Among the Shilluk community it was understood as part of a series of antagonistic alterations with (SPLA supported) Padang Dinka militias and another case of bad faith mediation by the government. In May 2016, Olonyi defected from the SPLA, formed the Agweleks, and attacked Malakal town. His forces took (temporary) control of Malakal and campaigned north, before being stopped by the SPLA 1st Division. A few months later, Okiech also defected and formed the TFNF in Manyo County. Conflict between the Shilluk forces and the SPLA continues.
Territorial disputes and conflict between the communities on both sides of the White Nile date back to second civil war. During that period, Dinka communities moved into land on either side of the White Nile that the Shilluk community considers their own. Many in the Shilluk community claim the creation of Akoka County in late 2011 was a Dinka land grab of Shilluk territory and a further marginalization of their ethnic group. At present, the Shilluk inhabit Fashoda county, and the Dinka, Akoka. Akoka’s borders are sufficiently controversial that there is not an official state map demarcating the county.
Under President Kiir’s 28 states decree, Fashoda County is part of a new Shilluk dominated Western Nile State. Kiir’s plan allocates Malakal to Eastern Nile State, dividing Western Nile State into two non contiguous halves, with Fashoda and Manyo counties to the north and Panyikang to the south. Riek Machar had proposed a different federal revision of the area in December 2014. Under Machar’s plan, Malakal would be included in a new “Fashoda State” on the west bank of the White Nile, ensuring a coherent territory. Kiir’s proposal weakens a divided Western Nile State’s ability to govern itself and leaves its Shilluk population reliant on Eastern Nile for safe passage between its two halves. The Shilluk community largely rejects the proposal, viewing it as only the most recent iteration of a long history of government supported Dinka land grabbing and political marginalization.
Geography & logistics
Dethok, Kodok, Kodok Town, Lul
The River Nile flows along Fashoda County’s eastern border. On the opposite riverbank are Melut, Baliet and Akoka Counties. Additionally, Fashoda borders Sudan to the west, Manyo County to the north, and Malakal County to the south. The low lying area consists of Savannah grassland, bush and patches of forest. The White Nile River is a key resource for transportation and fishing, and for livestock rearing.
A secondary road runs along the west bank of the White Nile River through Fashoda County, connecting Kodok town to Malakal and Melut. A major main road runs parallel to this, on the opposite bank of the White Nile in Baliet and Melut counties. Another secondary road travels west from the West Nile River through Oriny town into Sudan.
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Nearest one is in Malakal.
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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