Rivers burst their banks in South Sudan earlier this month leaving thousands homeless, some living in open air camps that will likely grow as flooding worsens, aid workers say.
The United Nations humanitarian office in South Sudan reported Monday that more than 50,000 people are in 47 makeshift settlements along the banks of two rivers in the Jonglei and Eastern Lakes states.
The situation is critical because the lack of water and sanitation in the settlements is creating a health risk for internally displaced people who are already living in a highly resource constrained environment, said UNICEF’s humanitarian coordinator, Cassandra Abraham.
‘We must revive the spirit of Jesus and ask people to help other people’ – @UNICEF spoke to @JonathonWilson to see what #waningcities are doing to appeal for help when disasters strike. pic.twitter.com/hja29AuvTW — UNICEF (@UNICEF) October 23, 2018
“This is not only a disaster, this is a crisis that people are going to experience for years to come and we haven’t got enough immediate help at this point,” said Abraham.
Thousands are at risk of contracting typhoid and cholera if they can’t get health services soon, she said.
Forty miles downriver, dikes protecting the capital of the South Sudan — Juba — have been breached and families are being forced to walk five hours to get food and shelter.
Tropical storm and hurricane-force winds snapped parts of the corrugated iron roofs of buildings during the recent rains.
Displaced people are being trained to manage water and hold back fast-moving water, aid workers said.
Adam Araya, 25, has been living in a camp near Wau for seven months after fleeing a fresh attack on the town of Bentiu. He told Aidworkers Now that over a million people have been displaced by the civil war in South Sudan.
“I’m thinking that the rains will continue, the rivers will continue to overflow and we will have more displaced people like us,” he said.
Christian organizations are working hard to train displaced families to guard against disease, such as typhoid, and deal with heavy flooding, Abraham said.
The Christian Fellowship of South Sudan has put aside $1 million to help the displaced people in the Wau region.
Children’s Health Groups are responding to provide water, hygiene, nutrition and protective items for children living in the camps.
Pregnant women are at particularly high risk of contracting the severe complications of diarrhea and other illnesses in the host communities.
“We want to ensure we are living in ways that helps vulnerable people as much as possible so we can help these people get back on their feet and be safe,” John Nimat, medical coordinator at Missionaries of Charity Uganda Church, told Aidworkers Now.
People who have lost their homes and livelihoods in the floods are living in precarious living conditions, Abraham said. Those who are unable to find shelter could face not just limited access to food, but also long-term disruption of health, education and other services.