Raga County, Western Bahr El Ghazal
2016 population projection: 74,418
Major population centers: Raja and Deim Zubeir towns
Major ethnic group: Fertit, with minority of Dinka (Malual) and Chad peoples
The alleged Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) bombings in early 2015 led to the displacement of 65 IDP households to Raja town, according to an IRNA report. The County has also been hosting thousands of displaced people from Darfur since 2008. By May 2015 there were 6,663 displaced Darfuris in the Boro Medina Camp. Fighting in Raja town in June 2016 may have led to the displacement of roughly 7,000 families, with approximately 3,000 individuals fleeing into Sudan, according to Khartoum.
Economy & livelihoods
In a 2013 IOM assessment, 55 percent of residents listed farming and 45 percent fishing as their major livelihood activity. The most popular crops were groundnut and cassava, followed by sesame, sorghum, maize and vegetables. Some farmers also cultivated millet and tobacco. According to a 2013 report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) poorer households cultivated by hand tills while families who were better off used animal traction. Each household cultivated an average of 0.6 hectares. Families keep small numbers of mainly goats and poultry for household consumption. Collecting wild honey, shea butter nuts and thatching grass are also ways through which some residents supplement their income. Lack of equipment prevents some from profiting from forestry resources (timber and mahogany, for example) which is available in some parts of the County. During the dry season, residents have access to wild food sources such as mangoes, shea butter nut and honey.
The main market at Raja town was reconstructed in 2014 by the humanitarian agency ACTED and has individual covered stalls, latrines and a community centre.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
The County is classified as “Stressed” for this time period. According to the Annual Needs and Livelihood Analysis 2014 2015** report, the County’s food security outlook had improved over the reporting period. It had a surplus of 3,956 tons of cereal in 2015. Western Bahr el Ghazal state was the only state where every county produced a surplus of cereal for the reporting period.
**A collaborative effort by the Republic of South Sudan, UN agencies and development partners
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA
Raga County has not seen significant fighting between Government and Opposition forces. Defections from the SPLA and minor skirmishes have been reported, however it is not always clear who the main fighting parties are. In June 2015 for example media reported that fighting took place between the SPLA and an unknown armed group in Khor Shaman area and an SPLA camp in Boro Medina. An anti government militia group also attacked Raja town in June 2016 but their affiliation and the number of casualties is still unclear.
In some cases, SPLA defectors are also suspected of turning to armed banditry along the main highways. In January 2015 alone up to eleven civilians were killed in road ambushes, and the county commissioner was injured in an attack by unknown gunmen.
South Sudan has also accused the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of bombing Raga County on several occasions in recent years. In November 2014, aircraft bombed Khor Shamanand the Raga county commissioner blamed the SAF which he said was targeting Sudanese rebel groups suspected of being present in the area. Details were difficult to verify but humanitarian groups believed up to 12 civilians and two SPLA soldiers were injured. At least two more attacks attributed to the SAF followed, in February and March 2015.
The alleged SAF bombings in early 2015 led to the displacement of 65 households to Raja town, according to an IRNA report. The county has also been hosting thousands of people from Darfur since 2008. By May 2015 there were 6,663 displaced Darfuris in the Boro Medina camp. It appears that their status had not been changed from IDPs to refugees following South Sudan’s independence. An assessment by humanitarian groups in May 2015 found that there was “strong desire” on the part of the population to have their status changed to refugees. Tensions over food distribution between the Darfuri and host communities existed. There was reportedly some resentment on part of the host population towards the IDPs who were seen to have superior business acumen and more commercial success.
Fighting in Raja town in June 2016 has also led to displacement, though details are still emerging at the time of writing. The Sudanese government reported that 3,000 Raga County residents entered Sudan in late June. There are unverified reports that roughly 7,000 families were displaced due to the fighting.
South Sudan and Sudan are embroiled in several territorial disputes, including sovereignty over the Kafia Kingi payam, an area which Sudan argues is part of South Darfur and South Sudan believes is part of Raga County. Both countries claim this roughly 25,000 square kilometres area of land which is believed to be rich in mineral resources including gold, copper, petroleum and uranium. Under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which called for a return to the 1956 border, the Kafia Kingi area was due to become part of Raga County. It is currently under Sudan’s effective control.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) remains a presence and reportedly clashed with South Sudanese forces in Raga County in February 2016. Residents report the LRA operate around the border regions, often attacking farmers and stealing food.
Geography & logistics
Ere, Raga, Ringi, Uyujuku
Raga County is the largest in the state in terms of area, covering approximately 62,000 square kilometres. The entire state falls under the Ironstone Plateau livelihood zone, which is characterized by open savannah woodlands. Vegetation is a mixture of grasslands and forest, including mahogany and bamboo trees. The sandy, clay soil is considered moderately fertile and supports production of a variety of crops. Multiple rivers are located in the County including the rivers Shalleikha, Boro, Raja, Sopo and Kuru. The River Raja flows through Raja town. Flooding often cuts off payams north of the town from the rest of the County during the rainy season.
The main towns of Raja and Deim Zubeir are connected by a primary road which is open to all vehicles, but accessible only in the dry season. From Raja, two separate secondary roads also run towards the Sudan border, entering at Diofo and Al Fifi towns. The road to Diofo is accessible only to 4WD (<3.5 metric tons) vehicles, with unknown seasonal conditions. The road to Al Fifi is only accessible in the dry season and only to vehicles less than 20 metric tons. Raja also connects to neighbouring Northern Bahr el Ghazal State via a road which is only open to 4WD vehicles (<3.5 metric tons), with unknown seasonal conditions. Deim Zubeir town connects to the state capital Wau via a primary road (open to all vehicles in all seasons) and Western Equatoria State (passable only with 4WD vehicles with unknown seasonal conditions).
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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