Population Displacement Continues to Rise in South Sudan
As the armed conflict in South Sudan approaches its fourth year, civilians continue to flee the violence that has gripped much of the country and resulted in vast humanitarian needs.
The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) continues to rise, and has now reached an all-time high of 1.87 million since December 2013, according to recent UN figures. Over 212,000 IDPs are hosted in UN protection of civilian (PoC) sites across the country.
The IDP population at the PoC site in Bentiu, Unity, has reached more than 108,300, representing an increase of over 14 percent since August, and matching levels not seen since April of this year. More than 7,300 people have arrived at the site since the end of October, largely from Koch, Leer and Rubkona counties.
Insecurity and corresponding increases in humanitarian needs in these parts of Unity are likely driving the increase in displacement to the PoC site. Fighting, particularly in Leer, is likely to continue prompting people to move to the Bentiu PoC site or more stable areas in Unity.
“Worsening trends of insecurity are preventing IDPs from returning to their homes in many parts of the country. While civilians are grappling with deteriorating humanitarian conditions, access constraints are making it more difficult for IOM and relief agencies to deliver aid to the most vulnerable, particularly in recent weeks,” said IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission William Barriga.
As camp manager at the Bentiu PoC site, IOM tracks entries and exits at the site. It also registers IDPs for the efficient delivery of humanitarian services, and supplies relief agencies with data to inform response planning.
Displacement figures also remain high in Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal, the site of heavy fighting in June and ongoing insecurity. Over 41,000 people, the highest number since June, are sheltering at the PoC site adjacent to the UNMISS base and in collective centres across Wau town, according to IOM-led population counts.
Of the 174 IDPs who arrived at the Wau PoC site last week, all cited security concerns as their core motivation for seeking protection at the site.
Outside the town, IOM and humanitarian agencies have been unable to consistently provide assistance to populations in areas south of Wau, due to bureaucratic constraints and blockages since early July.
Violence also continues to drive increased displacement in other parts of the country, including areas around Yei, Central Equatoria.
Nearly 3 million South Sudanese have fled their homes in the past three years. With over 1.1 million refugees in neighbouring countries, over 362,000 people have fled the country since July, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
IOM continues to coordinate with relief partners to provide multi-sector humanitarian assistance to displaced and conflict-affected people across South Sudan.