GENEVA - The World Food Program says nearly a million of South Sudan’s 11 million people have been affected by devastating floods and are in urgent need of life-saving assistance.
The government has declared a state of emergency in Bahr el Ghazal, Greater Upper Nile and Greater Equatoria states. It is appealing for increased international support to help it deal with this natural disaster, the worst in many years.
The United Nations reports a year’s worth of rain has fallen in a matter of weeks in some areas, washing away homes and livestock. Airstrips and roads are unusable, making many remote areas inaccessible.
The World Food Program reports tens of thousands of people are homeless and living in temporary shelters. Even before the rains fell, the agency notes 4.5 million people in the country did not know where their next meal was coming from.
WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel says that number is likely to increase by one million next year.
“The floods come at the start of what should have been the dry season—meaning the farming season has been ruined for many—putting vulnerable families at real risk. Early indications are that some 40,000 acres of cropland has been destroyed, leading to the loss of 20,000 metric tons of food, while many livestock have perished,” he said.
Verhoosel said more than three-quarters of a million people right now require food and nutrition assistance. He calls the situation scary, with many people living on a knife’s edge.
Verhoosel said the WFP has deployed a fleet of five helicopters to fly humanitarian workers, food and other supplies to flood victims in areas cut off from aid.
The WFP is appealing for $40 million to provide 19,000 metric tons of food aid over the next three months. It says more money probably will be needed once the full extent of the damage done by this disaster becomes clearer.