Following reports of returnee influx from the Central African Republic (CAR) to bordering areas in Western Equatoria State, REACH deployed as part of a multi-agency assessment to Tambura town, the border town of Source Yubu and surrounding areas to understand displacement patterns and access to services for newly arrived internally displaced person (IDP) and local communities. Tambura town was assessed on 8 November and Source Yubu was assessed on 9 November. REACH conducted five focus group discussions (FGDs) with newly arrived IDPs and members of the local community and two key informant interviews with Relief Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) officials. Eight settlements were furthermore assessed remotely through Key Informant (KI) interviews.
Population Movement and Displacement
The population of Tambura County has reportedly rapidly increased since the beginning of the year with reported influx of returnees from CAR as well as IDPs from neighbouring counties.
Returns from CAR
Since June 2017, high numbers of South Sudanese refugees started to come back from Obo Camp in southeastern CAR. The RRC recorded 6,212 returnees (1,517 households (HHs)) in Source Yubu and 16,699 IDPs/returnees (8,360 HHs) in Tambura,2 though no humanitarian organizations have been able to verify these numbers.
The main challenge along the traveling route reported by the returning population was hunger. While able-bodied individuals reportedly took between 5 to 9 days to travel from Obo Camp to Source Yubu and another 3 to 5 days to reach Tambura town, those traveling with young children took much longer, often several weeks.
FGD participants reported that the returns were primarily motivated by a lack of food inside the camp, where food distributions stopped around June due to insecurity along the supply route.3 Refugees in Obo Camp were reportedly not allowed to access land for cultivation and were therefore completely dependent on food assistance. Another reported reason for return was the fear of conflict, which is currently affecting CAR.
FGD participants reported that Obo Camp mainly hosted refugees from Source Yubu, which fled South Sudan following conflict which began in 2015. The most recent clashes in Source Yubu took place around November 2016 when most of the population was displaced to Bambouti, a town located approximately 5 km west of the border inside of CAR, from where they were transferred to Obo Camp earlier in the year. Other refugees in Obo Camp were reportedly from Ezo,
Tambura and Nagero Counties, suggesting that small numbers of refugees might also be returning to those areas.
The vast majority of the returnees are originally from Source Yubu.
Some of the returnees were able to settle again in their former communities in Source Yubu. A substantial proportion, however, reportedly found their houses destroyed or occupied by armed actors upon return and decided to move on towards Tambura town.
Returnees/IDPs are scattered in and around Tambura town where they have settled with the local communities.
Displacement from Bazia Road, Wau County
Between February and April 2017, heavy clashes displaced populations living along the Bazia road in Western Bahr el Ghazal towards Jur River County and Farajallah village, Wau County. A smaller number reportedly fled south to Nagero and Tambura Counties. According to recent reports, 700 IDPs have settled in Nagero town,5 while the RRC in Tambura town recorded another 300 HHs which reportedly arrived between February and May 2017.
Displacement from Nadiangare village, Yambio County
According to the RRC in Tambura town, approximately, 1,980 IDPs (325 HHs) have reportedly arrived between December 2016 and February 2017 from Nadiangare Village in Yambio County. Most of these IDPs have reportedly settled 10 km outside of Tambura town in Seneguse settlement (Mupoi Payam), after initial displacement from Nadiangare village due to heavy clashes.
Displacement from Ezo town, Ezo County
Frequent clashes between 2015 and 2017 displaced people from Ezo town and outskirts towards Tambura town and surroundings, while others fled across the border to refugee camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There are no official estimate numbers of IDPs from Ezo. However, FGD participants estimated around 2,000-3,000 individuals, some of whom have reportedly returned to Ezo town and surroundings.
Refugees from Central African Republic
Reports shared by the Refugee Commission Affairs of 119 newly arrived refugees (22 HHs) from CAR could not be confirmed during the mission to Tambura. The RRC had reportedly no information about recent arrivals and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) could only verify nine newly arrived refugees from CAR. UNHCR had registered 812 refugees (250 HHs) that had fled intensive conflict between 2009 and 2012. Those refugees have settled within the Tambura community and were therefore reportedly not interested in relocation to refugee camps.