South Sudan: Greater Akobo Rapid Displacement Brief Jonglei State, South Sudan, January 2018
Following the outbreak of conflict in Pieri, Uror County, in mid-January, internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Uror and Akobo West fled to Akobo town and Bor Protection of Civilian (PoC) site, whilst others have moved towards Ethiopia to reach refugee camps in Gambella. Given the rapid onset of the population movement, a lack of information on the nature of the displacement posed a challenge to partners operating in the area. To address these gaps, REACH conducted sudden onset remote displacement tracking to provide an initial overview over population movement. This entailed six focus group discussions (FGDs) with 33 female and 16 male new arrivals from Uror County and Akobo West between 17 to 28 January in Akobo town and Bor PoC site, along with direct observation of IDP settlement sites in Akobo town and REACH port monitoring.
• In mid-January 2018 conflict broke out between armed actors in the Pieri area, triggering displacement along the Yuai-Pieri-Mwot Tot road (Uror) as well as in Akobo West in the Walgak area. This came after conflict in February and April 2017 and incidences of insecurity in subsequent months in the Greater Akobo area (Akobo, Nyirol and Uror Counties), which displaced at least 100,000 individuals.
• As IDPs were displaced from sites near Pieri in mid-January, they moved through settlements in Uror, Nyirol and Akobo West, taking different routes until reaching Walgak. Populations in the settlements through which they passed, fearing that conflict would then spread from sites of the initial fighting, also reportedly fled to Akobo town. This included displacement from settlements in and around Walgak, where FGD participants reported that a large section of the population has fled.
• Around 15 January IDPs from Uror started to arrive in Akobo town. New arrivals were also noted in the Bor PoC site, Lankien (Nyirol County) and refugee camps in Ethiopia, while others reportedly fled to remote locations in both Uror and Duk.
• The IDPs arriving in Akobo town were predominantly women and children. Temporary IDP shelters were at full capacity a few days after the first IDPs arrived in mid-January, resulting in the majority of new arrivals seeking shelter among the local community.
• According to FGD participants, IDPs intend to stay in Akobo town. However, if there is a lack of service provision, or an outbreak of violence, they may seek to cross the border to Ethiopia.