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Floods worsen humanitarian situation in South Sudan

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | | Updated: 2021-09-14 16:47
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Flooding following heavy rains in South Sudan has compounded hardships for thousands of people who are already suffering due to sporadic fighting between community militia groups and persistent cattle raiding.

After his visit to Malakal, one of the conflict and flood-affected areas in the country, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the United Nations undersecretary-general for peace operations, confirmed people have lost their crops, livestock and their homes and lack income to support themselves.

"The flooding has added a lot of challenges to what the population is facing," Lacroix said in a statement released on Sunday.

On his Twitter account on Friday, Jan Egeland, the secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, termed the flooding in South Sudan as under-reported.

He said the flooding has hit over 380,000 people since May across the country's 20 counties, and warned more heavy rains and flooding are expected in the coming months.

The affected people are those living along the river Nile, Sudd wetlands and the rivers Sobat and Lol, with Jonglei and Unity being the most affected states.

The Jesuit Refugee Service Eastern Africa, an international Catholic organization, on Monday said the heavy rain and severe flooding have caused severe damage to camps for refugees and internally displaced persons in Maban county, where the organization serves.

The floods that have seen water levels rise higher than a meter have destroyed housing, roads and schools, and have left many people in search of dry land, the organization said.

Provision of humanitarian assistance to communities is currently being frustrated by the extensive infrastructural damage to roads and bridges.

The organization estimates more than 200,000 people have been affected in the region, causing displacement of the local host and refugee communities.

"Significant damage to livelihood assets, crops and livestock has diminished the communities' ability to effectively start to recover," the organization said.

On the insecurity, Lacroix said even though the situation has improved, some areas are still experiencing tension and fighting.

"There is room for more progress regarding security so the people, particularly those civilians in the UN protection of the civilians' camp, can move freely and with more sense of safety. We will be working on this together," he said.

A report published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Sept 6 said thousands had been displaced by recurring violence in Tambura town, and Western Equatoria in South Sudan.

The report said more than 58,000 people from Tambura have been displaced since June. Additionally, fighting between cattle keepers and host communities in Juba county and Central Equatoria has displaced 10,000 people to Juba town.

More than 5,000 people have also been displaced by violence in Tonj East county and Warrap.

According to data from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 8.3 million people out of the country's 11 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Additionally, 1.7 million people are internally displaced, while 1.4 million children and 483,000 women are malnourished.

Lacroix said the UN is committed to provide support to the affected communities, including protection of civilians by peacekeepers, facilitating reconciliation and peace talks, and ensuring vulnerable communities get the help they need to rebuild their lives.

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