In response to reports of persistent needs and a growing population of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the mountain and valley areas of southern Torit County, REACH joined a Rapid Response Mission team constituted by the World Food Program (WFP) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Gunyoro village, Ifwotu Payam. A concurrent screening and distribution took place in Iholong village, also in Ifwotu Payam, but was cut short due to nearby fighting.
The assessment was conducted from 17-20 November and consisted of 4 KI interviews with community leaders, 2 gender-disaggregated Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with a total of 28 participants, continuous interaction with community members during aid provision, and general observation of the area by foot and helicopter. Findings should be considered as indicative only, and further verification via site visits should occur where possible.
Population Movement and Displacement
Torit and the foothills of the Imatong Mountains to its south have seen fighting for decades. In the last few years, the population in the area has been in flux, with frequent displacement inflows and outflows, and nearly continuous internal movements.
Displacement into southern Torit County
Displacement to southern Torit County has been occurring continuously since 2013, with two large waves following conflict in the last few years. The first, in June and July 2016, occurred in response to outbreaks of violence in most population centres across South Sudan. In total, 1,720 IDPs fled to Gunyoro and the surrounding area from a wide variety of locations, especially Torit, Magwi, Juba and Malakal. In March through June 2017, fighting resumed in and around Torit, displacing people into other areas of Eastern Equatoria, Uganda and Kenya; this brought another wave of IDPs, of indeterminate size, to Gunyoro and across southern Torit County. In addition to these two large displacements, community leaders reported a continuous trickle of IDPs arriving from Torit and Magwi, as people search for wild food and land for cultivation.
IDPs in Gunyoro indicated that they chose to move to the area because they were unable to afford transport to Uganda but could walk to Gunyoro, which they perceived to be a relatively safe and fertile area. Most travelled only with what they could carry. IDPs are reportedly well integrated into the local community; they share shelter areas, land for cultivation and the limited food that is available.