Following the outbreak of violence in Juba in July 2016, the South Sudanese civil war spread from its historic epicentre in Greater Upper Nile to Greater Equatoria (Central, Eastern and Western Equatoria states). Insecurity caused widespread displacement and rendered much of Greater Equatoria largely inaccessible to humanitarian actors. As a result, only limited information is available on the humanitarian situation outside of major displacement sites.
In order to fill information gaps and facilitate humanitarian programming, REACH began collecting data on hard-to-reach areas in Greater Equatoria in January 2017 on a monthly basis. This data was collected primarily through interviews with new arrivals to Juba PoC1 and PoC3 sites (109 Key Informants (KIs) and 210 KIs respectively) and was supplemented by phone calls with 148 KIs residing across Greater Equatoria. Between 15 March and 18 June 2017, REACH interviewed a total of 467 KIs displaced from 233 settlements: 139 settlements in all six counties of Central Equatoria, 59 settlements in all eight counties of Eastern Equatoria and 35 settlements in all eight counties of Western Equatoria.
This Situation Overview provides a summary of key findings across Greater Equatoria aggregated across four months (March to June 2017). The first section analyses displacement and population movement in all three states of Greater Equatoria, with the second section evaluating access to food and basic services for both IDP and non-displaced communities.
Population Movement and Displacement
The conflict in Greater Equatoria has driven displacement on a massive scale, with 81% of assessed settlements reporting that at least half of local community members had left. Relatively low reported IDP populations in Central and Eastern Equatoria (23% and 29% of assessed settlements respectively reported the presence of IDPs), indicating that displaced populations continue to leave the country rather than settle nearby. These findings are supported by the high number of South Sudanese refugees arriving to Uganda, totalling almost 300,000 in the first half of 2017 : the largest refugee crisis in Africa in over 20 years.
However, the rate of displacement appears to be gradually slowing. In Uganda, the number of arrivals has gradually decreased since its peak of 85,395 in September 20163 . Moreover, settlements across all three states reported the presence of returnees in their communities (57% of assessed communities host returnees), mostly arriving in March 2017 (as reported by 36% of assessed settlements), likely because March signals the start of the rainy season and corresponding cultivation period. This suggests that displacement in the Equatorias peaked in intensity and will remain stable for the next few months, while still remaining at extremely high levels.
Individuals that remain, or have returned to Greater Equatoria, face increasing risks to food security. In Western Equatoria and Eastern Equatoria, the majority of assessed settlements reported that most IDPs resided with local community members (78% and 87% respectively). With only 32% of assessed settlements across Greater Equatoria reporting adequate access to food, IDP presence is likely to strain already stretched resources.
Men and women in Greater Equatoria experienced displacement in different ways.
IDPs in Greater Equatoria were predominantly female, with 76% of assessed settlements reporting that over half of IDPs were women.
KIs in Juba reported that this was because men had greater security concerns, such as violence from armed actors and forced recruitment, or greater financial responsibilities, such as working in Juba or tending to land or livestock, which kept them apart from family members.