UN: Heavy flooding affects 908,000 South Sudanese

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TOPSHOT – A woman with a boy walk in a flooded area  in Panthau, Northern Bahr al Ghazal, South Sudan. / AFP PHOTO / Albert Gonzalez Farran/Getty Images)

At least 908,000 people including internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and host communities have been either displaced or affected by flooding due to seasonal heavy rains in the northern parts of South Sudan, the UN said on Friday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the flooding across the 32 counties in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Eastern Equatoria, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Unity and Lakes regions have exacerbated the already worsening food insecurity situation in the youngest nation.

It said more than 60 percent of the flood-affected counties are currently classified as facing extreme levels of acute malnutrition caused by floods since July.

“I am extremely concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the floods. The United Nations is responding in coordination with the government. Our first priority is to save lives and uphold people’s dignity,” Alain Noudehou, the humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan said in a statement issued in Juba.

OCHA disclosed that across the 32 flooded counties more than three million people were in need of assistance even before the rains, out of the over seven million people in need countrywide.

It said that the rains are likely to continue for another four to six weeks and put more people at risk.

It said the floods have left entire communities submerged; health facilities and nutrition centers are filled with water or used to shelter people who have fled the flooding.

“Reduced access to basic services and markets have increased people’s vulnerability. Diseases are spreading with contaminated water. Access to hygiene and sanitation is limited, especially for women and girls,” it said.

OCHA said these affected areas were already facing high humanitarian needs. “We are now scaling up and will be able to help people quickly, especially once the water levels reduce and access improves,” said Noudéhou.

Aid groups urgently require some 224 million pounds (35 million U.S. dollars) to respond, said the UN agency.

“More needs to be done in the longer term to rebuild people’s livelihoods and strengthen their resilience to future disasters. This requires collective and sustained action by the Government, donors, and development and humanitarian partners,” said Noudéhou.

The UN humanitarian agency also warned that the crisis will not be over when the water levels recede, as it is anticipated to cause considerable damages to crops, arable land and livestock, hence affecting for months families’ ability to support themselves.

OCHA said that the number of climate-related disasters has doubled over the past 20 years globally, causing lives lost, growing displacement, ruined livelihoods, deteriorated food insecurity and malnutrition.

It added that every year 20 to 25 million people are displaced within their country due to extreme weather events often linked to climate change.

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