Aweil North County, Northern Bahr el Gahzal
2016 population projection: 176,960
Major population centers: Gok Machar
Major ethnic group: Dinka (Malual)
There have been limited reports of internal displacement or influx of IDPs tied directly to the national conflict (though the county received refugees from the Abyei region in October 2014). However, aid groups estimate that 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.
Economy & livelihoods
According to a 2013 IOM assessment, 33 percent of the population engages in farming, 32 percent livestock rearing and 23 percent fishing for their livelihoods. The main crops are sorghum, groundnut, sesame, maize and vegetables.
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 hold 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 North 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 severely deteriorated over the reporting period. It had a deficit of 7,790 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 SPLM/A was reportedly particularly concerned with possible unrest in Aweil North because it is the home county of General Dau Aturjong, who defected from the SPLA in May 2014 and is the most high profile Dinka SPLM/A IO member. Opposition forces under Aturjong’s command reportedly gained command of several key areas in the county’s northern areas by May 2015 (as well as parts of Aweil West). However, there have been no reported major clashes between Government and Opposition forces to date in either county. Media reported that the Government attempted to initiate dialogue with Aturjong via religious leaders, which was refused.
Ending a period of relative stability in the county as the national conflict heightened in neighboring states, a group of defectors clashed with the SPLA near Gok Machar (the county headquarters) in July 2014. The defectors are also believed to have raided the village of Mayom Akueng as they moved north, towards the South Sudan Sudan border, where they engaged SPLA troops. The clashes reportedly left at least 88 dead, according to media reports. The following month, the SPLA began a disarmament campaign among returning deserters, though the outcome of the campaign is unknown.
Risk of internal displacement is low, however local authorities said 1,542 households, mainly from the Abyei region, arrived in Aweil North from October 2014 to February 2015. Some IDPs also arrived from Unity and Upper Nile States where they were fleeing fighting near their homes.
Geography & logistics
Ariath, Malual Centre, Malual East, Malual North, Malual West
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. Flooding is a regular concern for both agriculturalists and pastoralists. In 2013, for example, heavy floods cut off several payams from the rest of the county, displaced about 700 households and resulted in loss of cattle and homes.
A primary road connects Gok Machar to the Sudanese border to the county’s north and state capital Aweil Town to its south. It is accessible year round to all vehicles.
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Information last updated: 26/08/16
For more information, please contact us