Aweil East County, Northern Bahr el Gahzal
2016 population projection: 425,100
Major population centers: War Awar and Malualkon (Aweil East is also the most populous county in the state, with an estimated 43 percent of the population according to government figures)
Major ethnic group: Dinka (Malual)
There have been limited reports of internal displacement or influx of IDPs tied directly to the national conflict. However, aid groups estimate over 70,000 South Sudanese fled into Sudan in the first half of 2016, including from Warrap, and Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal states. They are believed to be fleeing both food insecurity and conflict. In May 2016, media reported at least 300 children had been abandoned in the Majok Yiith Thiou area as their parents fled to Sudan.
Economy & livelihoods
Residents are agro pastoralists. According to a 2013 IOM assessment, 36 percent of residents engaged in farming, 35 percent livestock rearing and 19 percent fishing for their livelihoods. The main crops were sorghum, sesame, maize, groundnut and vegetables. Cattle raids and associated casualties have been a perennial issue as herds migrate from the highlands to lowlands in the dry season. This has reportedly continued throughout the national conflict. For example state police officials blamed unnamed militia groups for conducting a raid which killed six, including two children, around Mayen Thou in January 2016.
Historically, there have also been tensions between the Dinka Malual of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state and nomadic Misseryia and Rizeigat tribes of Sudan. The conflict stems from the annual migration of the Sudanese tribes into what is now South Sudan for water and pasture. The tribes have also clashed in the past due to historical abductions and enslavement of Dinka by the Rizeigat tribe. Dinka Maluel holds separate annual peace conferences with the Misseryia and Rizeigat in order to discuss migration routes and how to resolve any conflicts which might arise during the migration. Aweil East has hosted some of these meetings. These conferences have been held annually in recent years; however the process has reportedly been strained by interference from the SPLA and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and hostility among Dinka Malual towards the northern tribes.
Northern Bahr el Ghazal State residents are the most market dependent nation wide, with over 90 percent of households relying on markets as their main source of food supplies after harvest time, according to an April 2016 joint WFP/FAO report.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
The County is classified as “Crisis” 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 (the only one in the state). It had a deficit of 14,976 tons of cereal in 2015.
**A collaborative effort by the Republic of South Sudan, UN agencies and development partners
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA
Northern Bahr el Ghazal State has not been majorly affected by the national conflict, however there have been some defections and limited skirmishes between Government and Opposition forces – particularly as rebels seek to cross the state in order to enter Sudan.
The war’s impact on Aweil East has been relatively limited. In May 2014 a group of soldiers defected from the SPLA’s 3rd Division base at Wunyik, Aweil East County, however some, including their commander, returned days later. The defections are thought to have been due to the soldier’s fear of ethnic persecution, though they may also have been motivated by unpaid salaries. By October that year, there were reportedly significant defections from the SPLA 3rd and 5th divisions because soldiers had not been paid. Many of these deserters travelled to Abu Matarik in Sudan’s East Darfur State, to join the forces of the most high profile Dinka SPLA IO member, General Dau Aturjong. Forces loyal to the SPLA IO are believed to be operating near the Sudan Northern Bahr el Ghazal border (including possibly the section in Aweil East) but they have not launched direct attacks in the County.
Aircraft reportedly bombed Majok Nyich in Aweil East in March 2015 (in addition to Aweil West and Aweil North, leading to at least four deaths), Aweil West officials blamed the attacks on Sudanese forces.
In March 2016, some teachers in the county stopped working saying they had not been paid in two months – which led to some school closures. While corruption might be the cause of the missing salaries county officials of various departments denied knowledge or responsibility for the matter.
Geography & logistics
Baach, Madhol, Malual bai, Mangar tong I, Mangok, Wounlang, Yargok, Mayom wel
The region falls under the Western Flood Plains livelihood zone. Both grassland and swampy areas with papyrus reed and pockets of forest are found in this area. The soil varies from clay, loamy and sandy which are suitable for agriculture, to varying degrees. Sandy soil is generally found in the County’s north, near the border with Sudan, and is considered the most fertile. Rivers within the County are seasonal. Flooding is a regular concern for both agriculturalists and pastoralists and during the rainy season low land areas are often cut off from the rest of the County.
The main towns of Aweil East, including War Awar and Malualkon, are connected to primary roads which connect to Aweil Town, Sudan and neighbouring Warrap State. The roads to the Sudanese border, Aweil Town and Akun (in Warrap State) are accessible year round to all vehicles. Another primary road to Warrap State, and eventually Abyei, is only passable in the dry season for all vehicles.
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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