By Francesca Merlo
Humanitarian agencies are appealing to the international community to take action to thwart a worsening humanitarian catastrophe in South Sudan
Unprecedented flooding in South Sudan has affected almost 800,000 people. In the east and northeast of the country the high water levels have left thousands of people stranded in areas that are inaccessible to aid workers.
Before the flooding began, the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan was described as “catastrophic”, with around 7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
The United Nations believes that the consequences of the flooding will “further exacerbate their situation, undermining resilience, coping mechanisms and access to life-saving services”.
The rising water levels are destroying the food stocks and crops of a country in which over one million children are acutely malnourished and in which, according to the UN, many families cannot afford to eat even one meal a day.
Humanitarian organisations such as Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) have been on the ground offering medical assistance to those in need.
MSF says the flooding has halted medical care in some facilities and, in some areas.
In a statement, MSF says that “with rising and contaminated water sources comes the risk of outbreaks of deadly waterborne diseases like cholera and hepatitis A”.
It also warns of a rapid increase in acute watery diarrhea, malaria and respiratory tract infections – three of the biggest killers in South Sudan”.
The flooding is expected to continue and water levels are expected to rise over the next few days, causing relocation of makeshift medical tents and worsening an already disastrous humanitarian crisis.