September 13, 2013 (RUMBEK) - The Northern Bahr el Ghazal government and humanitarian agencies operating in the area have held a joint meeting on how to respond to an alarming flood crisis gripping the state.
Wednesday’s joint disaster management response meeting was chaired by the acting governor, Salva Chol Ayat, and was attended by the state secretary-general in collaboration with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) state coordinator Seyez Kumi and other partnering humanitarian agencies.
During the meeting, which was held at South Sudan Hotel, representatives discussed the mechanisms on how to take action and mitigate future threats to flood victims.
The director of South Sudan’s Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC), Deng Kuel Kuel, said the meeting aimed to bring state government, UN agencies and NGOs operating in the state to work collaboratively in providing assistance to flood-affected communities.
“The aim of this meeting is to bring our humanitarian partners and the state government into the same board on how they can work uniformly to address this deteriorating emergency situation of floods in the state. The meeting paves way forward on how we work together on urgent basic needs of the affected communities by any soonest capacity possible”, he said.
According the latest reports submitted by various county commissioners, the humanitarian situation is continuing to deteriorate, particularly in Aweil South county, where rising flood waters have demolished buildings and destroyed houses. About 3,970 household properties have suffered extensive damage, while thousands of people have been displaced.
Aweil South commissioner Maj. Jeil Mangong Yel told the meeting that a family had reportedly been crushed when a mud-brick house collapsed.
Rising flood waters had also hindered road access from the county’s headquarters to the state capital, Aweil, while eight payams [districts] in the region have also been affected.
Meanwhile, Aweil North county has reportedly evacuated its nine payams, with cattle assembled at the county’s headquarters in Gok-Machar which is said to be the only high ground left uncovered by the flood.
Authorities put the total number of displaced households 1,955, with that figure expected to double soon.
Aweil East county is reported to be the worst-affected region, with some 35,000 households displaced after their homes collapsed. The county commissioner there has appealed for urgent humanitarian relief.
Addressing the meeting, Ayat urged humanitarian agencies working in the state to intervene and help provide for the basic human needs of flood-affected citizens in the state.
He further warned that the state was now facing the likelihood of a serious famine by 2014 as the majority of crops had been destroyed or washed away.
Meanwhile, the UN’s head of humanitarian operations in Northern Bahr el Ghazal has refused the state government’s request for flood relief aid, saying the South Sudanese government has already allocated 7 million South Sudanese pounds (SSP).