High-level delegation visits Jonglei state, led by acting Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan
Insecurity across Jonglei state in South Sudan has been exacerbated by the worst flooding that citizens have witnessed in 60 years.
In this regard, Arafat Jamal, the acting Humanitarian Coordinator for this young nation led a high-level delegation, including the Chair of the National Relief and Rehabilitation Commission; the Ambassador of Turkey to South Sudan; the Chief of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s Civil Affairs Division; as well as representatives from humanitarian, development and civil society organizations.
The main objective of the visit: To ascertain the humanitarian situation on the ground.
The delegation visited Achingdiir suburb of Bor where a water pump has been installed to drain some 2.7 million cubic litres of water per hour from the town as part of ongoing efforts to keep it from being submerged.
Subsequently, a dyke construction site near Malualchat, running 24 kilometres north of Bor town was also assessed.
The delegation met with the Jonglei state cabinet and representatives of internally displaced persons in various locations and discussed a wide range of issues, but most importantly, the catastrophic humanitarian situation created by the floods that has displaced some 225,000 people across five counties that are worst affected.
Four other counties are yet to be assessed jointly by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Speaking to the media, Mr. Jamal was eloquent about the suffering of people. “What we are trying to do is draw attention to the very serious crisis caused by floods in South Sudan which has severely impacted some 800,000 people. More than 200,000 of these people are in Jonglei state itself. They have lost everything—their homes, their crops and their livelihoods. We have to marshal every last bit of support for them and that is why we are here.”
For his part Denay Chagor appreciated the support from the international community but underlined that much more needs to be done for residents of Jonglei to begin recovering from their losses.
“We are very happy to be able to show this high-level delegation the true conditions on the ground. Our people are caught in an unexpected natural disaster and we need to do everything in our power to help them,” stated the Governor.
Lokole Ame Bullen, Chief Administrator of Greater Pibor, stressed that a durable peace is more necessary than ever across Jonglei and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area to improve the humanitarian situation.
“We have promised to work together with Jonglei and protect humanitarian workers and supply routes. Our people cannot afford more conflict. They have been rendered helpless by the rising water levels,” he averred.
Erdem Mutaf, the Turkish Ambassador to South Sudan, promised his government’s support for the flood-affected and for promoting education among the large youth population in Bor, pledging to establish an international school here.
According to Manase Lomole Waya, Chair of the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, the country’s government has allocated 10 million US dollars to flood relief and called for increased food supplies for the most vulnerable. “The government of South Sudan is committed to alleviate the situation of people, but we need more support from the international community to be able to transition from providing relief to building resilience and eventual recovery,” he noted.
Internally displaced persons in Bor raised several concerns as well which included shortages of water, food and scholastic materials for their children.
Ayuen Ajak, a teacher at Mathiang Primary School within the vicinity of an IDP camp in the area was vocal about the immediate needs. “Most of our children here are malnourished. They used to drink milk in the village but after the floods, livestock have died. The food rations have been reduced here in the camp and there is no hospital nearby. They go to school but have no access to scholastic materials,” she explained.
Floods across Jonglei have also resulted in increased waterborne diseases as well as snake bites. More than 6,000 people have been evacuated from northern counties of the state to parts of Upper Nile and Ruweng Administrative Area, but they need humanitarian aid. Air travel is the only mode of accessing these counties because all roads are submerged. UNICEF estimated that 380 schools have either been covered under the water or occupied by flood displaced persons.
Construction of roads and massive dykes are being seen as a permanent solution to floods supplemented by humanitarian aid as well as renewed peace and security initiatives for people to recover and rebuild their lives.