UNMISS engineers rapidly respond after fresh flooding destroys homes and cuts access to Bentiu airport and town
BENTIU - “We are in a terrible situation. All our shelters are flooded, getting firewood to cook is tough and it's next to impossible to move between the town and the camp for displaced persons," reveals Peter Gatjuat Kuol.
Peter’s plight is shared by tens of thousands of people across Unity state whose lives have been devastated by the worst flooding in 60 years.
Homes, health facilities, water sources, schools and markets have been submerged, preventing people from accessing essential services and exacerbating the existing vulnerability of communities.
Food security has become a grave issue.
“All our crops have been destroyed and we have no food to eat. Our cattle have nowhere to go for grazing as everything is under water,” averred Albino Gieng Bol, a resident of Rubkona town.
A fresh deluge during the weekend rendered the main road linking the airport, town, and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan's base here inaccessible, making it impossible for community members and peacekeepers to move.
However, Pakistani engineers deployed here were quick to come to the rescue, ably assisted by humanitarian partners from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) .
“We are working hard to pump water out on both sides of the road, plus secure and rebuild the dykes. This will ensure the town and airport remain accessible for communities, and, hopefully, prevent further damage to nearby homes,” explained Lieutenant Colonel Hameed Akbar, the commanding officer of the Pakistan military engineering unit in Bentiu.
“The same situation happened last month near the dumpsite. The water level was higher than this, but we managed to control the flow along the road and airfield. I’m confident we can do it again,” added the Lieutenant-Colonel.
Residents are grateful for the help during this difficult time.
“UNMISS and humanitarians are doing all they can. They are working day and night to protect important areas from the flooding,” revealed Mr. Kuol, who further appealed to the government and humanitarian agencies to increase assistance for flood-affected community members, particularly in Panyijiar, Guit, Mayiendit, Leer and Mayom.