UNMISS engineers rapidly respond after fresh flooding destroys homes and cuts access to Bentiu airport and town

unmiss floods unity state bentiu pakistan peace security local communities rainy season south sudan peacekeepers united nations

A fresh deluge in Bentiu, Unity state, has local communities scrambling as South Sudan faces the most catastrophic floods in 60 years. However, thanks to UNMISS engineers from Pakistan and humanitarian partners, the latest emergency response should be able to tide people, especially those who are displaced, over the worst at least. Photo by Jacob Ruai/UNMISS.

30 Nov 2021

UNMISS engineers rapidly respond after fresh flooding destroys homes and cuts access to Bentiu airport and town

Jacob Ruai

BENTIU - “We are in a terrible situation. All the shelters are flooded with water. Getting firewood for cooking is very difficult and we are finding it very hard to move between the town and the displacement camp.”

Peter Gatjuat Kuol’s experience is shared by hundreds of thousands of people across Unity 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.

A fresh deluge at the weekend cut off the main road linking the airport, town, and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan base, making it impossible for community members and peacekeepers to move.

The Mission’s engineering contingent comprising of peacekeepers from Pakistan immediately responded by deploying heavy equipment and water pumps with the assistance of IOM.

“We are working hard to pump the water out on both sides of the road as well as securing and rebuilding the dykes to secure access to the town and airport and to try and prevent further damage to nearby homes,” explained Lt. Col. Hameed Akbar, the commanding officer of the Pakistan military engineering unit in Bentiu.

BENTIU - “The same situation happened last month near the dumpsite. The water level was higher than this, but we managed to pump it out and control the flow along the road and airfield. I’m confident we can do it again.” 

Residents are grateful for the help during this difficult time.

“UNMISS and the humanitarians are doing all they can to help us. They are working day and night to protect important areas from the flooding,” said Peter Gatjuat Kuol.

He appealed to the government and humanitarian agencies to provide more assistance for communities across the state who have been heavily affected by flooding, particularly in Panyijiar, Guit, Mayiendit, Leer and Mayom counties.

“All our crops have been destroyed by the floods. We have no food to eat. Our cattle have nowhere to go for grazing as the whole area is occupied by water,” said Albino Gieng Bol, a resident of Rubkona town.

“For us, as peacekeepers, we are trying to help the local community as much as possible. We will make sure the road is usable again so that people can move between their homes and town and so that UNMISS and humanitarian agencies can continue to support those in need,” said Lt. Col. Hameed Akbar.