Severe flooding in South Sudan, Somalia cause major humanitarian crisis

Massive flooding in parts of South Sudan and Somalia worsened the humanitarian situation in those countries with aid agencies now calling for help.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors without borders said seven million people in South Sudan need humanitarian assistance, while in Somalia, more than 270,000 people are displaced after the Shabelle river burst its banks. 

Already, the government of South Sudan has declared a state of emergency in 27 flood-affected areas, estimated to have impacted between 800,000-900,000 people.

While floods are a seasonal and acute problem in South Sudan, this year’s flooding is extreme and the rainy season is forecast to continue into the month of November.

The doctors without borders in Pibor, one of the worst affected areas, said, water levels are continuing to rise and living conditions for the displaced population are deteriorating.

“The space is increasingly congested, thick with mud, has no latrines and just one functioning borehole. Some people are left with no alternative but to drink from the same open and contaminated water sources as they are washing in. Pibor town is completely submerged,” said the organisation. The MSF says their ability to respond to the immediate medical and humanitarian needs of the community is limited due to lack of space to expand their activities in the temporary tented primary healthcare clinic.

Thousands of people

“There is also no space to store a large supply of medical stock and no cold chain capacity. Water levels in Pibor are continuing to rise and the situation on the ground is constantly evolving,” said Isaac Badi, MSF’s medical coordinator in Pibor.

The MSF’S temporary wards, including the maternity wing, are flooded, further compounding their response to the situation. On Somalia, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said the worst-affected area is Baladweeyne where the people are sheltering under trees or in emergency tents after their makeshift homes were washed away. “Floods have destroyed more than three quarters of Baladweeyne and submerged many surrounding villages. Our team is extremely worried about at least 30,000 vulnerable families displaced by flash flooding in Bardaale, further south,” said Victor Moses, Country Director for NRC in Somalia.

According to figures by the UNHCR and NRC-led Protection Returns and Monitoring Network (PRMN), 273,000 people have been displaced by flooding in October alone, the vast majority in the Baladweeyne area due to the flooding of the Shabelle river.

“The country is already ravaged by drought, which has contributed to the displacement of around thousands of people so far this year. Vulnerable communities become more dependent on humanitarian aid and find it harder to recover,” Moses said.

Displaced people, particularly children, women and the elderly are now facing serious hunger, health and protection risks in an area already receiving little to no humanitarian assistance due to insecurity and conflict.

According to NRC staff on the ground, they are in desperate need of food, water, emergency shelter, health, and sanitation/latrines and mosquito nets.

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