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UN alarmed as flood wreak havoc on vulnerable communities

By Atimaku Joan 

The United Nations Refugees Agency(UNHCR) alarmed for critical situation facing the most vulnerable people as floods in this decade wreaked havoc over 700,000 people across the country.

Speaking during a press briefing yesterday, Arafat Jamal,the UNHCR Representative in South Sudan said that his team met with around 1,000 people who had walked for seven days to reach Malakal town.

“Women, children, and elderly people arrived exhausted and hungry, Some had not eaten for days and others are marooned on islands surrounded by water, sheltering under trees and unable to cross to safety,” said Jamal.

He stated that Women were deeply worried about the health of their children, with an increasing risk of infections from deadly water-borne diseases. 

The UNHCR Representative revealed that the government and the humanitarian agencies in the country were to deliver urgent support to the most affected. The support should include: hygiene items, food, emergency shelter and solar lanterns to provide light to support the relentless floods. The heavy rains swept away homes and covered farmlands, families’ homes and livestocks which forced people to seek safety on higher ground and in neighbouring towns.

He said that the effects of the climate emergency were being felt in every continent and in every region. The impacts were profoundly felt in East Africa, saying that communities that were already struggling were facing extreme floods and storms. The communities also have experienced unreliable rainfall and distress under hotter and drier conditions as their basic needs such as clean water, food, livelihoods, land, and a healthy environment were severely hit. 

He stated that the rainfalls inthe country was expected to continue for the whole year with an anticipated increase in the number of people needing humanitarian assistance.

 In addition to that, the UN representative said that climate change contributed to both flooding and drought. This condition sparked inter-communal conflict as communities were forced to seek and share refuge in ever shrinking patches of higher ground and desperately sought compensation for lost income. Therefore dialogue between host and displaced communities who shared resources must to continue being essential. 

To encourage development, the Government of South Sudan has allocated US$10M last week to flood response efforts and the Local governments were also working to alleviate suffering within the communities including building dikes, installing systems to pump out flood waters and to redirect excess water through canals. Host communities and displaced people also continued to show incredible resilience and generosity.

He added that the floods not only triggered immediate humanitarian crises, but would reverberate through the coming year as entire planting seasons were lost. Herds of cattle drowned that need Humanitarian agencies and local governments in South Sudan to pump out the water in an urgent attempt to help the population from the worst consequences of floods.Jamal stated that in order for the nation to bounce back, a more concerted effort is needed to help families and their livelihoods adapt to the harsh and intensifying effects of the climate change. 

He called on the international community to urgently assist affected communities to rebuild and protect people’s lives and livelihoods. 

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