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Floods wreak havoc in camps as world commemorates Environmental Day

The Flooded Internally Displaced camp in Bentiu (file photo).

By David Mono Danga

As the world marks the Environmental Day today, thousands of South Sudanese Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) live in fear of the torrent rains that are set to pound the country for the next three months.

The country’s Meteorological Department warning that several regions are prone to heavy flooding makes it harder for the people living in Protection of Civilian Sites.

The weather agency told reporters that heavy rainfall is expected in the months of June, July and August and might lead to devastating floods in the flood-prone areas of Wau, Malakal and Bentiu which hosts the biggest POC camps.

Already many have started fleeing from the camps for fear of being washed by the flash floods which are a common phenomenon in the areas.

According to Relief Web, more than 2,000 internally displaced people living in the protection site next to the United Nations base in Bor, in Jonglei region of South Sudan, have had their homes destroyed by flooding caused by heavy rains.

An infant drowned in a pool of stagnant water last week died instantly in the said camp.

John Maliah, the Bor Protection Site Camp Leader lamented that the number of lactating mothers, some with babies as young as two days old, were at the high risk. This has forced many of them to seek shelter at community shelters.

He lamented that the situation could get worse in the next few months. According to Maliah, the situation worsens at night.

“There is no place for people to sleep, no place for them to cook. All the firewood is wet. It is a disaster,” Maliah told Relief Web.

Last week a huge number of IDPs in Minkaman were forced to flee their homes after their grass thatched houses were washed away by floods. Most of the structures were totally flattened while some remained half standing.

Health experts have expressed fears of the outbreak of water borne diseases including cholera, dysentery and typhoid which are a common norm in the camp.

Cholera has of recent been a major challenge in the health sector with over 20,000 suspected cholera cases and 436 deaths reported in December 2017.

Most of them are now stranded, as the water chased them away from the wetlands forcing them to seek shelter in higher grounds. As a result, there has been the emergence of many small “islands” where they have been residing for the last one week.

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management has appealed to humanitarian organizations for a total of SSP 80 million emergency fund to help monitor floods situation in the country.

“We are seeking for SSP 80m emergency fund from the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) to procure emergency supplies such as tents, mosquito nets, blankets and drainage tools”, the undersecretary in the ministry Gatwech Peter Kulang said.

Last year, torrential rains forced over 100,000 people from their homes and destroyed valuable property in central and northern South Sudan.

 

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