News / Africa

Early Heavy Rains Pummel S. Sudanese

South Sudanese girls displaced by the fighting collect their laundry from a barbed wire in a camp for displaced persons in the UNMISS compound in Tongping in Juba February 19, 2014. Thousands of people have been killed and more than 800,000 have fled thei
South Sudanese girls displaced by the fighting collect their laundry from a barbed wire in a camp for displaced persons in the UNMISS compound in Tongping in Juba February 19, 2014. Thousands of people have been killed and more than 800,000 have fled thei

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on rain and aid in South Sudan

Joe DeCapua
The International Rescue Committee says early rains in South Sudan have created catastrophic conditions for thousands of displaced people. The humanitarian agency says it’s a race against time to provide shelter, sanitation and clean water.

Heavy rain and powerful winds struck Juba last Friday night. The storm lasted just an hour, but when the skies cleared the damage was severe.


IRC South Sudan Country Director Wendy Taeuber surveyed the U.N. Tomping Displacement Camp -- once filled with shelters made of plastic sheeting and bamboo sticks.

She said, “646 were destroyed in just one hour of that intense rain with the severe winds. The base holds 23,000 people. But if one hour of rain can do that kind of damage, it’s a matter of time before hundreds more are losing their shelters.”

About 8,000 people are living in flood conditions at the Tomping site. The IRC and other groups are encouraging the displaced to move to sites on higher ground. But Taeuber said many are reluctant to move.

“There are two bases holding displaced people in Juba. One of them is lower than the other. So, one idea to try and help the situation is to relocate them to the drier site, which is also flood prone, but not as bad. But this is all within Juba. People are afraid to move too much. So, it’s a matter of making sure we can guarantee safety if we are able to move them to the other sites.”

Taeuber said at least 10,000 people should be moved from Tomping. The other U.N. base where the displaced have gathered in Juba is known as U.N. House.

The muddy conditions will make any effort to move the displaced difficult .Taeuber said another big storm is expected to hit the area in a few days.

The roads around the camps are made of murrum, a mixture of stones, sand and earth. When the roads collapsed from the rains, people used pieces of murrum to construct shelters.

In all, there are more than 700,000 internally displaced people in South Sudan.

The early rains are expected to spread soon from the Juba area to other parts of South Sudan. Some 200 kilometers north of Juba, there’s concern about what might happen in Minkaman in Awerial County in East Lakes State. There are about 50,000 displaced people there – many sheltering under trees. Construction has just begun on three new sites for the displaced in Minkaman.

The International rescue Committee Country Director said it’s difficult to pre-position emergency supplies in South Sudan.

“It’s a difficult choice whether to have them stored here in a central location and then bring them out when the rain might make a place inaccessible or send them out now. But in terms of the fighting that’s still ongoing and lack of law and order in these areas there’s a great risk of losing the materials to looting and theft,” she said.

The International Rescue Committee also has programs in South Sudan to help protect women and girls from sexual violence. Taeuber says as women leave the safety of camps to find shelter materials, they are vulnerable to attack. It’s unclear how many women and girls may have been attacked since the conflict began in December. Taeuber said South Sudanese women are hesitant to report such incidents.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs