“I am 48 years old, I have never seen floods like these in my life. This has never happened in Ganyiel. If the floods continue like this, no one will live here anymore.” James Boarwun is a community leader in Ganyiel, Unity State, in South Sudan. Since June, his community, like many others along the Nile river, has been facing the dramatic consequences of abnormal torrential rains.
According to the latest statistics, over a million people have been impacted by the floods in South Sudan this year. Among them, over 481’000 have been displaced. Roads are cut off, entire villages and towns are submerged, houses and health facilities have been damaged. People are seeking refuge in higher ground and are lacking food, showing signs of malnutrition and at risk of waterborne diseases due to lack of access to safe drinking water.
“Almost all cows are dead, all sheep are finished, everyone is suffering. Everyone has moved to a higher ground. There is completely no way out,” added Boarwun.
Insecurity caused by recurrent cycles of armed violence in several states, as well as the logistical difficulties of reaching isolated communities has further complicated efforts to reach the 1 million people affected. To meet urgent needs, the South Sudan Red Cross (SSRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have recently assisted 72,000 people in remote areas of Jonglei, Lakes, Unity and Upper Nile states.
In the area of Ganyiel, Unity state, accessing the communities displaced by the floods required a tremendous logistical effort. The assistance had to be dispatched and carried on small canoes, to reach the most vulnerable communities in the remote areas, inaccessible by larger boats or air transportation.
“In the first place, we were targeting Ganyiel, because it is near the river bank. But then the floods got worse in September, it affected the whole of Panyijar County”, said Chuol Maker, SSRC team leader.
“In Ganyiel, it is estimated that over 50,000 people have been affected by the floods”, explained Guit Matthew, ICRC officer in charge of the distribution. “Together with the South Sudan Red Cross Society, we are distributing food, sorghum and cooking oil. We are also distributing essential household items such as kitchen sets, blankets, mats, tarpaulins for them to be able to set up for themselves temporary shelter.”
Groups of thousands of displaced people in at least four states of South Sudan, namely Jonglei, Lakes, Unity and Upper Nile States, are facing increasing risks of hunger and diseases, and do not have adequate medical care. If armed violence were to resume with the onset of the dry season, the ICRC is concerned that the humanitarian consequences for the populations would most likely be dramatic.
“We started planting in June, crops germinated well but in July the heavy rains destroyed everything. Everything is lost, utensils, beddings, even our ration card is washed out”, said Mary Nyaliah Gatluak - displaced person from Laydit, who sought refuge near Ganyiel.
As thousands are still in urgent need of assistance, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an Emergency Appeal seeking a total of 2.7 million Swiss francs to continue supporting the South Sudan Red Cross (SSRC) to deliver assistance to over 117,000 most vulnerable people affected by floods in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Lakes and Unity states.
For further information, please contact:
Marial Mayom, SSRC Juba, +211 921 115 955, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucien Christen, ICRC Juba, +211 912 360 038, email@example.com
Location: Ganyiel County, Unity State, South Sudan
Camera: Junior Ali
Copyright: ICRC access all