South Sudan floods: 800,000 people desperately need food, water and shelter

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Approximately eight hundred thousand people are at risk of disease and extreme hunger as a result of devastating floods that have hit South Sudan, Oxfam warned today.

Unusually heavy rainfall has hit 29 counties across the country, causing widespread displacement. Areas where Oxfam operates, including Akobo, Pibor and Lankien, have been severely hit. Houses have been destroyed and many areas are submerged and inaccessible. People have lost their crops and livestock and many schools and health clinics have been closed, as they are either flooded or have been converted into relief shelters.

With heavy rains forecast for at least another two weeks, the situation is likely to get much worse before it gets better and the risk of a major outbreak of waterborne diseases including cholera increases by the day.

Sajit Menon, Oxfam humanitarian manager in South Sudan, said: “The scale of these floods is unexpected; at this time of the year in South Sudan the dry season is usually about to start. The cruel fact is that thousands of people in the areas hardest hit by the floods were already going hungry. People who were struggling to survive have had what little they had washed away by this extreme weather.

“People managed to reach safety on high ground but are left with no food and no clean water or sanitation. Disease is as much of a threat as hunger. They also need basic shelter, as their homes have been damaged or completely destroyed. We have witnessed pregnant women carrying their belongings and their older children in their arms, while wading through knee deep mud, with nowhere to go.”

Oxfam is assessing the needs of those worst hit by the floods. In the coming days, together with other agencies, it will start distributing temporary sheeting, soap, buckets and other hygiene items, to over 45,000 people in Lankien, Akobo and Pibor. Oxfam needs $5 million to help the people worst affected.

Menon said: “The flooding is impeding the humanitarian effort. In a country with only 200km of paved roads delivering aid is always a challenge – but the floods mean we need extra resources to reach those in need. And we must do it fast before it is too late – thousands of lives are at risk. ”

ENDS

Notes to Editor

Spokespeople available for interviews – for more information please contact Melanie Kramers: mkramers1@oxfam.org.uk / +44(0)7825 088894.

Donate online to Oxfam GB’s South Sudan appeal to help people affected by the floods.