Yei County, Central Equatoria
2016 population projection: 277,726
Major population centers: Yei Town is the second largest city in Central Equatoria State (next to Juba)
Major ethnic group: Kakwa tribe; with notable Avukaya, Baka, Keliko, Mundu and Pojulu presence
There is low risk of internal displacement. Yei County hosts a significant number of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic at Lasu refugee camp.
Economy & livelihoods
Yei’s location next to the border with (DR Congo) and proximity to Uganda allowed it to flourish into a key trading hub during the colonial era. Today it remains an important business center, its proximity to international markets ensuring a fairly regular supply of commodities to its markets. The area is home to fertile soils, moderate temperature and high rainfall, making it conducive for agriculture, which the majority of the population relies on for their livelihoods. Major crops include maize, cassava, sorghum and groundnut. The Yei River provides opportunities for fishing but it is not a major livelihood activity.
Approximately 6,000 Bor Dinka cattle moved through Yei County this year as part of their seasonal migration, with no conflict reported.
Yei has not been directly affected by the national conflict, in terms of fighting. However, the cost of living has increased which places additional burdens on households. The county’s relative stability has drawn some investor interest, though development has been hampered by the ongoing conflict, economic crisis and poor logistics conditions.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
The classification for this period is “Minimal”. According to the Annual Needs and Livelihood Analysis 2014 2015 report**, the food security situation in the county was unchanged during the reporting period. Yei had a surplus of 15,856 tons of cereal in 2015. Arable land, proximity to the international market (e.g. high quality seed imports) and lack of large scale violence contributes to the relatively low level of food insecurity in this county.
**A collaborative effort by the Republic of South Sudan, UN agencies and development partners
The region has traditionally been an SPLA stronghold with a key garrison and significant military presence. Following the outbreak of the national conflict in December 2013, hundreds of Nuer IDPs sought refuge in counties including Yei, where they were protected by the Government in the former UNMISS compound. These IDPs – 661 individuals in Yei – were mainly families of soldiers who had defected to join the Opposition. Approximately 3,000 IDPs from Mundri and Maridi also sought refuge in Yei following the eruption of fighting in the Western Equatoria State counties in May 2015.
As of early 2016 the county has been relatively untouched by the national conflict overall – though there have been pockets of related violence. For example in September 2014, internal fighting broke out in SPLA barracks over salary, which resulted in seven deaths. There have been unverified reports of abductions by government security elements.
Throughout 2015 there were a series of deadly ambushes reported along the main roads running out of Yei, including to Juba, which meant some humanitarian agencies had to take an alternative route through Uganda (adding approximately eight hours of travel time).
As of April 2016, 10,110 refugees – mainly from DRC – are living in the protracted refugee settlement at Lasu, roughly 32km from Yei Town. Many of the refugees share cultural similarities with host communities, which contributes to the largely peaceful situation. The first group of refugees arrived in 2008/2009, with more arriving throughout the years as conflict continued.
Geography & logistics
Lasu, Mugwo, Otogo, Tore, Yei Town
The Yei River runs through the city along the vertical axis. The county is part of the greenbelt livelihood zone, with favorable soil and weather conditions for production of a wide range of crops. Yei Town is approximately 160km from Juba by road.
There are four primary roads from Yei, running roughly northwest to Rasolo payam of Maridi County, northeast to Lainya County (and eventually Juba), east to Kajo keji County and south to Morobo County. A secondary road runs southwest from Yei to the border with DRC. The roads heading to Rasolo, Lainya and Morobo are accessible for all vehicles throughout all seasons. The road to Kajo Keji is mainly accessible only in the dry season for vehicles up to 20 metric tons (better conditions in initial stretch near Yei Town). The road heading to the border with Uganda is accessible throughout the year but only to 4WD (<3.5 metric tons).
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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