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Analyses Deng de Majok Chol Jok Jonglei state News South Sudan

Emergency Appeal to Global Humanitarian Community to Rescue Flood Victims in South Sudan

Emergency Appeal to Global Humanitarian Community: Urgent Help Needed to Rescue South Sudanese People Drowning in Unprecedented Floods!

Appeal to the Peoples and Governments of Norway, the US, the UK, Australia, and East African Community

Letter to the International Community


By Deng de Majok Chol, OXFORD, England

Nov 14, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — This year’s unprecendented, catastrophic and continued flooding across South Sudan leaves millions of people in desprate need of emergency help from our international community. Entire regions are under more than a meter of water and have been drenched for months. People have no dry land to run to and are in need of emergency assistance in relocation to dry regions by plane or boat. These people also lack food and are starving. Their livestock and crops have all drowned. In addition, the people are exposed to the dangers of high water such as snakes and waterborne diseases amidst the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).  Without assistance from the international community, many more people will die of starvation.   

A woman struggling to carry food supplies for the survival of her children (Photo credit: courtesy profile)
A woman struggling to carry food supplies for the survival of her children (Photo credit: courtesy profile)

These grave humanitarian conditions have overwhelmed locally operating humanitarian agencies. At this writing, the UN News reported submersion of “more than 36 counties of the country…[and] entire villages, homes, farmsteads.” This has led to loss of human lives, livestock, and livelihoods.  

This year’s floods have been particularly devastating, both for their unprecedented scale, and for their timing: the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of recent political strife had only just begun to rebuild their lives in Jonglei and Upper region adjacent to the Nile. This disaster has already claimed many lives and decimated entire villages, but the flooding has no clear end in sight. It has swept away hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of livestock – the currency of these communities – leaving families with absolutely nothing for survival and revival.

Residents of Jonglei State struggling through floods as their Village is submerged in the flood.(Photo credit: courtesy image)
Residents of Jonglei State struggling through floods as their Village is submerged in the flood.(Photo credit: courtesy image)

The 2020 flooding level in South Sudan set a new record of 60 years. These floods top the historic levels of 1961, when the White Nile swelled and swept across the same region. It had similarly caused many deaths, long-term displacement of entire communities, loss of livelihoods, and massive, irreversible damage to the environment.  With cattle and crops disappeared into the floods, households were condemned to greater risk of persistent poverty and communities primed for fragility.

Recent floods have surged over the last three consecutive years, and with this year’s apex flooding, reflect increased hydrological variability which correlates with climate change. They have caused forced migration of hundreds of thousands of people, massive destruction to homes, schools, livelihoods, and irreversible damage to the ecosystem of the Sudd. 

Administration Headquarters submerged in one county, Jonglei Region (Photo credit: Courtesy image/Nyamilepedia)
Administration Headquarters submerged in one county, Jonglei Region (Photo credit: Courtesy image/Nyamilepedia)

At this writing in November 2020, the wet season should be abating, but is not. Flood waters continue to rise and persist.  The White Nile remains unusually swollen, fed by increased intensity and frequency of local precipitation. There is no reprieve for these vulnerable populations, mostly children, women, orphans, and people with disability, as well as elderly women and men. 

Agency vehicles stuck in the flood. Jesuitmissions.org (Photo credit: courtesy image/Nyamilepedia)
Agency vehicles stuck in the flood. Jesuitmissions.org (Photo credit: courtesy image/Nyamilepedia)

As a former IDP and refugee for a combined period of 14 years, my own survival is a living testament to the generosity and spirit that is embodied in humanitarian mission. The international aid extended through such humanitarian agencies was my lifeline over those years and remains the only possible refuge for these flood-affected people and their devastated communities. 

Men using plastic mats to transport children and elderly across the flood.(Photo credit: courtesy image/ supplied)
Men using plastic mats to transport children and elderly across the flood.(Photo credit: courtesy image/ supplied)

I am therefore appealing to humanity across the world, to help provide critical emergency relief in the form of evacuation transport, food, medicine, and survival supplies to the people drowning in the flooded regions of South Sudan. Their situation is dire, and they are desperate. The local self-help groups from these communities, and locally based humanitarian agencies, are doing their best but have limited resources. They have few motorized boats to evacuate the vulnerable, and need additional help moving earth to create dykes.

I trust in the generosity of humanity and urge the elevation of this disaster to the world stage.  

I plead with the international community for urgent provision and deployment of emergency aid. Your help is needed to save the lives of these vulnerable people, who are stranded, desperate, and dying in still-rising waters.  

The displaced populations are spread onto small “islands” of slightly elevated land in Jonglei State, and those who are not surrounded by high water were flushed into neighboring Lakes State, Unity State, Central Equatoria, and Upper Nile State. Their needs have overwhelmed host populations and present humanitarian organizations. 

This year’s rains over the Lake Victoria catchment, and local precipitation over the Sudd Basin, had begun before flood waters from the previous year had fully receded. While it is still raining now in 2020, it is feared that additional rains in 2021 will compound current floods, as waters will not have receded by commencement of the new wet seasons. These conditions are, therefore, likely to persist for a year or more, and significant humanitarian support is required for the displaced populations and their host communities.

It now appears that traditional flood-coping mechanisms, such as passive canals and small handmade dykes, which are very limited, are no longer effective in the face of increasing seasonal flooding and changing environment in South Sudan. 

For decades, several humanitarian organizations have stood with the people of South Sudan.  Prioritizing this disaster, at this very moment, is urgently needed. Providing and mobilizing humanitarian supplies – such as tents, mosquito nets and food items – in addition to staffing for logistics and healthcare, is critical for alleviating suffering, and the near-permanency of this calamity. 

These are urgent needs: 

  • Additional water and air transport for evacuation (including funding for existing transport)
  • Food supplies
  • Tents
  • Non-Food Items (NFIs) such as blankets, mosquito nets
  • Access to health services and clean water. 

The Government of South Sudan has declared a state of emergency in the flooded areas. This is an official step which was needed for operationalization by the relevant institutions and resources. I urge the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, and other relevant authorities to use any available means to elevate the visibility of these unprecedented floods and their catastrophic consequences on vulnerable populations. 

I would like to thank South Sudan’s First Lady, Mary Ayen Mayardit, for her great humanitarian support to the displaced South Sudanese populations. Her intervention is making a difference.     I also commend her, as the First Lady of the Republic, to continue championing relief efforts and to encourage more organizations and individuals to follow her leadership, by creating visibility for the plight of these afflicted populations. 

I recognize this appeal comes at one of the most difficult times when the world is shaken by COVID-19. However, humanity has always prevailed by sowing hope amidst suffering in pockets of the world afflicted by calamity, pandemic or otherwise. I truly hope the world will join hands to provide urgent humanitarian assistance for these people desperate to escape the flooding waters to dry land and safety. 

Twic East, Jonglei State, South Sudan [Left] and Bor Town, Jonglei State, South Sudan.[Right] (Photo credit: courtesy image/supplied)
Twic East, Jonglei State, South Sudan [Left] and Bor Town, Jonglei State, South Sudan.[Right] (Photo credit: courtesy image/supplied)
 Please make your generous donations to NGOs assisting flood-affected families. 

Yours sincerely,

Deng de Majok Chol Jok

DPhil Candidate, Oxford University’s School of Geography and the Environment.

The Author Bio

Deng holds B.S. in Pol Sci & Econ (Arizona State); MBA (GWU), and MPA (Harvard). He is Doctoral Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences), and he is pursuing Oxford doctoral thesis on Environmentally Sustainable Management of the Sudd Basin Under Climate-induced Hydrological Variability and Change for the Social and Economic Development of South Sudan. he can be reached at: deng.chol@ouce.ox.ac.uk; dengmchol@yahoo.com 

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