STORY: South Sudan Floods Dire Impact - UNHCR
TRT: 2 mins 16s
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 29 March 2022
VIRTUAL PRESS BRIEFING
B-Roll from UNHCR, shot between March 7-10, 2022 in South Sudan available on: https://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/unifeed/asset/2723/2723593/
UNHCR warns of dire impact from floods in South Sudan as new wet season looms
South Sudan battles record floods amid changing climate.
Prolonged flooding and displacement are expected to worsen when the wet season begins in May, the refugee agency warned on Tuesday. Urgent action is needed to protect already vulnerable populations from its worst impacts.
Returning from a visit to South Sudan’s most affected areas, Special Advisor on Climate Action to UNHCR, Andrew Harper, said that parts of the country were “still affected by high water levels from last year's flooding, and it seems unlikely that the waters will recede completely before the onset of the next rainy season.” The rains forecast for 2022 are expected to be even worse than last year, he emphasized. “These two circumstances combined, set the tone for what appears will be a disastrous rainy season.”
In all, 33 of South Sudan’s 79 counties have been badly affected by flooding. Thousands of people have been displaced, while others are marooned in dyke-ringed compounds, holding back floodwaters with mud, sticks and plastic sheeting. Residents need water pumps and heavy equipment to build sturdy flood barriers and keep their livestock above water, UNHCR insisted.
To put the situation into perspective, Mr Harper said, “you've got elderly women, vulnerable populations who are basically grabbing mud and trying to build up the berms around their villages. This is during the dry season. The wet season hasn't even started yet. So, we have to expect that many of these very defenses will be overcome by the upcoming rainy season.”
The fragile country has been struggling to overcome political and economic challenges since it gained independence in 2011. The worst flooding on record was in 2021, killing an estimated 800,000 livestock, submerging crops and impacting more than 835,000 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). South Sudan counts the largest refugee population in Africa with 2.5 million people displaced. Those multiple factors of instability fuel violence, warned
Mr Harper: “As more and more people get displaced from their safe zones and they have to encroach into an area where they're not the traditional population, then, there will be conflict. We're seeing that time and time again. So, you have villages which are holding out, doing whatever they can in order not to be forced to move to where they may face violence.”
Amid a backdrop of climate events that are worsening globally, UNHCR warned that floods and droughts are becoming more frequent and intense, and that catastrophic food insecurity is looming. “As you have crops wiped out, as you have livestock dying, season after season, you have this compounded series of disasters and a lack of international response in terms of providing support for food security, then you will be facing the situation of a famine in that region. I don't think it's ‘if’, it's going to be ‘when’.”