Floods devastate homes at UN Protection of Civilians site in Bor

16 May 2018

Floods devastate homes at UN Protection of Civilians site in Bor

Liatile Putsoa

A group of children living in the United Nations Protection of Civilians site in Bor dig up soil and fill up old pots and empty rusted tins of powdered milk.

They carry these pots on their heads as they make their way across an improvised bridge in murky waters to help stop the flow pouring into their homes to rescue what little remains.  

More than 2,000 internally displaced people living in the protection site next to the United Nations base in Bor, in Jonglei region of South Sudan, have had their homes destroyed by flooding caused by heavy rains.  

The rains first flooded access roads in the protection site making them impassable but continued showers have left the sea of makeshift canvas shelters submerged in water.

A team which included personnel from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) were quick on the ground to do an assessment of the extent of the damage.

“This is an actual disaster. We are very concerned about the health and safety of the people,” said the UN Mission’s Head of the Field Office in Bor, Deborah Schein.

Progress in pumping out water from the first wave of flooding was being made, but fresh floods have upset these efforts. 

 “There is no place for people to sleep, no place for them to cook. All the firewood is wet. It is a disaster,” said John Maliah, an IDP living in the camp who is also Chairman of the POC community.

“It is going to get worse when night comes,” he added. 

Nearly half of those living in the POC site are children. They will be the worst hit as schools will be interrupted and there is the inevitable rise in water-borne diseases due to collapsed pit latrines throughout the camp.

One death was reported after a one-year-old baby drowned in a stagnant pool of water last week.

“The family of the baby girl is absolutely devastated,” said Nyajok Dak Nuer, the Chairwoman of the POC community.

ACTED Camp Manager, Sabrina Frutig said that they are doing all they can in this dire situation. However, a shortage in water pumps including the breakage of one pump is slowing down the relief efforts.

“We provided the people with sand bags but some have gone missing,” she said. “Fuel for the water pumps was also stolen which has slowed down our response. It is very unfortunate.”

With the rainy season only just starting, more floods can be expected adding to the suffering of South Sudanese people who have been uprooted from their homes and forced to flee for fear of losing their lives due to the ongoing conflict.