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JUBA - 6 Dec 2019

South Sudan flooding causes extreme destruction: IOM

IOM responds to communities affected by the floods in hard-hit Ulang in Jonglei region. IOM /Olam Amum
IOM responds to communities affected by the floods in hard-hit Ulang in Jonglei region. IOM /Olam Amum

Nearly one million people have been drastically affected by flash floods following unprecedented rainfall in South Sudan, the UN migration agency said today.

In a statement, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) further said thousands have been displaced from their homes and seen their livelihoods destroyed; many towns are completely submerged. 

According to the statement, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and partners are ramping up their humanitarian response to affected communities in counties declared to be in a “state of emergency” by the government of South Sudan.

“The level of destruction caused by the floods is unfathomable. People have nowhere to sleep, children are sick, there is no food to eat,” said IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission, Jean-Philippe Chauzy.

“We have rolled up our sleeves and we will continue to do everything we can to help alleviate the misery caused by these floods,” he added.

In Unity region’s Mankien and Bentiu towns, the UN migration agency said its Shelter and Non-Food Item (S/NFI) teams distributed emergency items – such blankets, mosquito nets and plastic sheeting for temporary shelters – to 3,000 households.

It added that the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) team also distributed aqua tabs and filter cloths used to treat the water consumed by 3,000 households.

Another 6,000 households received similar relief items in Upper Nile region’s Ulang and Gumruk towns, according to the statement. 

IOM pointed out that it is also working to mitigate the potential abuse of at-risk groups. “We cannot forget that in crises, vulnerable populations, especially women and children, are more likely to face gender-based-violence and other kinds of abuse,” said Chauzy. 

“Protection and safeguarding are at the cornerstone of all of our activities and it is important that as we provide immediate emergency relief we also tackle protection issues,” he continued. 

 Even when the rains stop, the UN agency said, the need for continued assistance will remain. It pointed out that inevitable outbreaks of waterborne diseases, destruction of homes and lost livelihoods will require sustained support so that families can live in dignity as they rebuild.   

IOM flood response in South Sudan is supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).