IRNA Report: Nyilwak, Panyikang Payam, Upper Nile State, 18 August 2015
The security situation in Nyilwak and fourteen other bomas of Panyikang Payam of Payikang County is reported to be normal, according to the local people. In Nyilwak Boma, the IRNA team observed relative normality in terms of security, evident by the physical absence of armed men in the serene riverine boma and the presence of a large number of children and women. Normal subsistence agricultural activity amongst the populations is also indicative of the relative improvement in security the community has achieved thus far. Fighting was last witnessed in Panyikang between the IO and the SPLA was in August 2014. The ferocity of that conflict left behind a trail of destruction including the gutting of homes, killing of civilians and the looting of animals. The conflict also reportedly induced large scale displacement, and violence and abuses against vulnerable people including Sexual and Gender Based Violence (GBV).
While there aren’t currently any armed elements in Nyilwak, local communities report the distant sound of the SPLA gunships and according to the state SSRRC, people in Tonga duck into hiding whenever the gunships hover over the region. The residents noted that the large swampy terrains that surround Nyilwak have created a defensive fortress of secure enclave that has kept inhabitants in relative peace for a protracted period. In spite of the peace, the people are challenged by the lack of basic social amenities including basic health care, education, clean and safe drinking water. The community of Panyikang Payam lived in an agro-pasture livelihood zone prior to the conflict. However, the systematic looting of animals by fighters has left the population with barely any animal. Fishing and farming has become the main source of livelihood, but limited fishing equipment has resulted in limited catches; and late planting, poor and erratic rainfall this season has caused maize and sorghum in farms to wither, which is likely to yield a low harvest.
Nyilwak Boma is a crossroad for fourteen other bomas in Panyikang Payam. The payam has an estimated population of 15,947, according to local SSRRC officials. Most of the inhabitants are returnees that fled conflict in the payam in 2014. There are a few IDPs, some recently fleeing the conflict in Malakal, Warjok, and the recent bombardment in Owacci. The returnees are from Wau Shilluk and other areas within Upper Nile State.
The population identified their most outstanding priorities as food, health, education, fishing gears, livestock treatment, and mosquito nets.