Severe floods have devastated large areas of the country since July, submerging entire communities and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement on Friday.
It added that an estimated 908,000 people were affected, including internally displaced people, refugees and their host communities in a country already hit by years of ruinous civil war that caused mass displacement and wrecked its economy.
The situation was “extremely concerning”, as rains are likely to continue for another four to six weeks and put more people at risk, said Alain Noudeho, OCHA humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan.
The floods have limited access to health facilities, nutrition centres, basic services and markets, according to OCHA.
Across the 32 flooded counties in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Warrap, Eastern Equatoria, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Unity and Lakes, more than three million people were in need of assistance even before the rains, it said.
Abnormally heavy flooding has been devastating large areas of #SouthSudan since July, with 900K people affected. "Our first priority is to save lives and uphold people’s dignity,” said @AlainNoudehou. Funding is urgently needed. See press release ➡️ https://t.co/PzfvZDsBec pic.twitter.com/rP8CZl0xpe
— OCHA South Sudan (@OCHASouthSudan) October 25, 2019
Many affected areas were already facing high humanitarian needs before the flooding started, with more than 60 percent of them classified as having extreme levels of acute malnutrition.
In addition, the crisis will not be over when the water levels recede because considerable damage to crops, arable land and livestock is anticipated, the UN warned. This will obstruct the ability of families to support themselves for months to come, it added.
Despite its richness in oil, South Sudan is among the world’s poorest nations.
The country secured independence from north Sudan in 2011 after decades of war but descended into its own conflict at the end of 2013.
Under pressure from regional and international powers, the warring sides signed a peace accord in September 2018 but its rollout has been delayed.