Heavy flooding has affected about 380,000 people in South Sudan, with overflowing rivers submerging homes and displacing families in the impoverished country, the UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA said Tuesday.
Nearly three-quarters of those affected are in two states — Unity and Jonglei — OCHA said in a briefing note, warning of “more heavy rains and flooding expected in the coming months”.
“Access is a major challenge, with the majority of flood-affected areas inaccessible by road,” the agency said, with aid workers struggling to deliver supplies to displaced populations.
Michael Wai, who fled with his family to Jonglei’s capital Bor, said many people were unable to move to safer areas.
“The flooding is coming from all directions — east south, north and west,” he told AFP.
“Many people have left some of the flooded areas but there are some people who have been behind because of vulnerability, they cannot move out of the place,” he said, adding that elderly residents were in a particularly precarious condition.
Rising waters triggered by early seasonal rainfall have deluged farmland, killing livestock and destroying flimsy thatched huts, a year after record floods affected some 700,000 people.
Around 100,000 of those displaced in last year’s disaster have still not returned home, while the relentless rainfall has left some agricultural land submerged for well over a year, OCHA said.
The young nation is still struggling to cope with the aftermath of a five-year civil war that left nearly 400,000 people dead.
Four out of five of South Sudan’s 11 million people live in “absolute poverty”, according to the World Bank in 2018, while more than 60 percent of its population suffers from severe hunger from the combined effects of conflict, drought and floods.