Many towns in South Sudan are completely submerged as flash floods displace thousands of citizens from their homes, around one million others drastically affected. This follows unprecedented rainfall in the troubled country that has seen their livelihoods destroyed.
The International Organisation 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.
IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission, Jean-Philippe Chauzy said,“the level of destruction caused by the floods is unfathomable. People have nowhere to sleep, children are sick, there is no food to eat.”
Many people in affected areas are unable to access to health care facilities, nutrition centres and other basic services. While impassible roads and waterlogged airstrips have put some interventions on hold, IOM has made significant progress to provide lifesaving assistance.
“IOM stands with the Government of South Sudan and its people during these trying times”, said 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.”
In Unity region’s Mankien and Bentiu towns, IOM 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. 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 Jonglei region’s Ulang and Gumruk towns.
Through the Rapid Response Fund, an additional 140,000 people have received water treatment and emergency items, as well as emergency mobile health services, from local organizations supported by IOM.
In parallel to the delivery of relief assistance, IOM is helping 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 need for continued assistance will remain. 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).