Rising flood levels spell dire situation in greater Jonglei
GIDEON ASARE SACKITEY
Several days of torrential rains have left wide swaths of Greater Jonglei devastated and its inhabitants both flabbergasted and displaced. With more precipitation on the forecasted horizon, there are fears that the situation may deteriorate further.
“The people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. So far, we have lost eight lives. We just concluded an emergency meeting with humanitarian agencies and our position as a government is to relocate the people to nearby Labraab, outside of Pibor,” says John Kaka, Boma Minister of Information, revealing that the entire population of the area has been displaced.
“We made an earlier request to the humanitarian agencies and Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs at the national level, but we have not heard from them yet,” he added.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, and humanitarian actors have met to discuss how best to assist those in need, with close monitoring and assessments of developments and most urgent needs currently ongoing.
Major areas in a total of 32 counties in Jonglei, Lankien, Mogok, Fangak and Pibor have been hit hard by the floods. Other submerged regions of the country include Upper Nile, Warrap, Eastern Equatoria, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Unity and Lakes - where more than three million people needed assistance even before the near-biblical rains.
“We can see diseases like cholera coming up in the next few weeks, along with acute food shortages in the entire area. For this reason, we appeal to UNMISS (the United Nations Mission in South Sudan) and humanitarian actors in the country to move quickly and come to our rescue,” says Phow governor Johnson Kuol Gai.
While attending a three-day UNMISS-led workshop on the protection of children during armed conflict, the governor explained that numerous homes and crops have been destroyed. Some displaced civilians have currently moved with tents from their flooded villages to the perimeter of the UN base in Pibor, which, being located at a slightly higher elevation, has been less affected than most surrounding areas.
Unusual amounts of rain have plagued large parts of South Sudan since July, placing entire communities below water and forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. Severe floods have hit large areas of the country since July, submerging entire communities and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement on Friday.
According to the humanitarian body, nearly one million people in South Sudan have been affected, while the UN Children’s Fund, Unicef, say that some 490,000 of the victims are children.