Abiemnom County, Unity
2016 population projection: 24,339
Major population centers: Dominant: SPLA
Major ethnic group: Dinka (Dinka Alor clan); small population of Bul Nuer (2016 Population projection*: 24,339)
There is medium risk of displacement in Abiemnhom County. There was significant pre emptive displacement of residents to other states following the outbreak of violence in late 2013. By some estimates more than half the population fled. It is unclear whether they have since returned. The county also drew IDPs as fighting continued, likely due to its relative stability. There were 12,000 IDPs in Abiemnhom as of July 2016, according OCHA.
Economy & livelihoods
The traditional livelihood practices in this county are agriculture and livestock rearing. As part of the Western Flood Plains, the county is characterized by short vegetation, black clay soils and a relatively flat topography. The soil is relatively fertile. According to a 2013 report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), livelihoods rely chiefly on goat rearing and sorghum production. Sorghum is relatively drought resistant, and this county experiences unreliable rainfall and frequent droughts. In addition, residents also cultivate vegetables including cowpeas, pumpkins and okra. Though the main livestock reared are goats, some residents also raise sheep and cattle. Cattle raiding and competition over grazing land have been a source of intercommunal conflict. In addition to these livelihood practices, a September 2015 IPC report also lists sources of additional income for residents from Abiemnhom, Mayom, Pariang, Panyijiar and Rubkona counties: sale of firewood, charcoal or grass (35.7 percent); sale of livestock and livestock products (14.5 percent); sale of alcoholic beverages (12.7 percent); sale of fish (9.2percent), agriculture (9.2 percent); casual labor (6.7 percent); gifts, borrowing, begging or sale of food aid (3.6 percent).
Markets in northern Unity State, including Abiemnhom, reportedly used to depend on cross border trade with Sudan. However border closure following the Sudan South Sudan conflict meant that Abiemnhom became dependent on supplies of key products including sorghum from Uganda, via Juba. Abiemnhom is sparsely populated and home to only 2.9 percent of Unity State’s population, according to a 2008 South Sudanese government tally.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
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 had a deficit of 1,386 tons of cereal in 2015.
**A collaborative effort by the Republic of South Sudan, UN agencies and development partners
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA
The County remained under government control throughout the conflict. As Unity State became embroiled in the national conflict in late 2013, forces in Bentiu loyal to the government moved into Abiemnhom County when Bentiu fell to Opposition control on 20 December. There has been no significant fighting in Abiemnhom County, though neighboring Mayom and Rubkona Counties have seen major devastation as a result of clashes between Government and Opposition forces in recent years.
Abiemnhom served as a key transport route through which the SPLA funneled supplies and troops from Bahr el Ghazal into Unity. In February 2015, the SPLA also moved east from Warrap State and into Abiemnhom before attacking Bentiu, as part of the dramatic escalation in violence in central and southern Unity State that spring. Juba blamed anti government forces for a series of deadly attacks on civilian vehicles traveling the Abiemnhom Mayom road, however opposition spokespeople denied responsibility.
According to a January 2014 humanitarian assessment, fighting in neighboring counties prompted 14,000 Abiemnhom residents – roughly 41 percent of the county’s then population by some estimates – to pre emptively flee to Abyei, Warrap, Wau and Northern Bahr El Ghazal. The County’s relative stability also drew IDPs during the initial wave of conflict in late 2013. By January 2014, 2,000 IDPs had arrived in Abiemnhom town from Bentiu and Mayom County. Local officials reportedly welcomed the IDPs, as well as 250 Sudanese businessmen who had been working in neighboring Mayom. The county commissioner asked military officers to escort the Sudanese traders to Abiemnhom in January 2014. More IDPs arrived in Abiemnhom as fighting continued in Unity State, including heavy fighting in neighboring Rubkona County. According to an estimate by OCHA, as of June 2016 there were 12,000 IDPs in Abiemnhom.
Landmines and explosive remnants of war were reportedly left in Abiemnhom (as well as Mayom, Bentiu, Pariang and Leer), which UN Mine Action is in the process of clearing. There are reportedly 13,620,552 square meters of land affected by mines, UXOs and ERWs in Abiemnhom County alone.
Abiemnhom County residents have traditionally had conflicts with the nomadic Misseriya peoples of neighboring Sudan, who graze their herds in Unity State during the dry season and are accused of conducting violent cattle raids. A 2011 UNDP survey found that Abiemnhom residents listed this as one of the major security threats and furthermore believed the Misseriya were supported by the Sudanese Government.
Geography & logistics
Abiemnhom, Aworpiny, Manjonga, Panyang
The region dominated by flat grasslands, with some shrubs, thorns, and patches of forest. The sandy and loamy soils are relatively fertile. The River Kiir flows through the County’s southwestern corner. Marshlands lie east of the main town of Abiemnhom, around Bil village, and are likely prone to flooding in the rainy season due to the county’s classification as being part of the Western Flood Plains. Abiemnhom County lies at the northwest corner of Unity State and borders South Kordofan in Sudan and the contested region of Abyei.
A primary road connects Abiemnhom town to Mayom County at its east and Twic County, Warrap State, at its west. The road was rated accessible to all vehicles, but only in the dry season, according to a May 2013 Logistics Cluster report. However, a later survey by the Cluster determined that the Mayom Abiemnhom segment was muddy, uneven and impassable for all traffic during the peak of the rainy season (August October). The Mayom Abiemnhom road is considered a key transport route to eventually reaching Bentiu and refugee camps in Unity State. Travel time between Mayom and Abiemnhom is approximately 50 60 minutes by light vehicle and up to two hours by truck when the roads are dry. Furthermore, a secondary road runs through the County (without connecting to Abiemnhom) and connects Mayom town to the Abeyi area. That road is only passable with 4WD vehicles and seasonal conditions are unknown.
All season fixed-wing airstrips
There is an airfield at Abiemnhom, but it was not marked as in current use according to a May 2013 Logistics Cluster map.
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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