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700,000 South Sudanese hit by worst floods in decades, says UN

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 said it was alarmed by the humanitarian impact of the worst flooding in decades in South Sudan, as it affected more than 700,000 people across the country.

Stéphane Dujarric
UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, disclosed this at a news conference at the  UN headquarters in New York, saying that the UNHCR was working to help the victims of the floods.

Dujarric said the UN humanitarian agency was working with the government and partners to help the most affected people – by providing food, emergency shelter, hygiene items and solar lanterns.

“In Upper Nile state alone, UNHCR teams met around 1,000 people who had walked for seven days to reach Malakal town,’’ he said.

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The spokesman said some of these people had not eaten in days, noting that women were deeply worried about the health of their children, with the increased risk of infections from deadly water-borne diseases.

“UNHCR said that while the effects of the climate emergency are being felt on every continent and in every region, its impacts are profoundly felt in East Africa.

“Communities, which are already struggling, are facing unprecedented floods and storms, unpredictable rainfall, and distress under hotter and drier conditions as their basic needs and rights to water, food, livelihoods, land, and a healthy environment are hit hard,’’ he said.

On Ethiopia, Dujarric said the humanitarian colleagues reported that the situation in Mekelle, in Tigray as at Tuesday was calm, but tense.

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He said local health workers had reported that three children were killed and one person injured in an airstrike on the outskirts of Mekelle on Monday.

“A second airstrike in Mekelle town later in the day reportedly injured nine people and damaged houses and a nearby hotel.

“Our humanitarian colleagues are alarmed at the intensification of the conflict and once again remind all parties to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.

“We also call for unrestricted and sustained humanitarian access to all people in need.’’

Giving an update on COVID-19, Dujarric said a UN team led by acting Resident Coordinator Dirk Wagener, had continued to help authorities respond to the pandemic in Papau New Guinea.

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“Our team has provided health supplies and supported the vaccination campaign, following a recent rise in the number of cases. The number of new cases this week has doubled compared to last week.

“Around 10 per cent of the target population has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while just 5.7 per cent of the target population is fully vaccinated.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF are working closely with the government to increase the number of people who are vaccinated. They are also working to combat misinformation surrounding the vaccine,’’ he said.

By Cecilia Ologunagba

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