UN warns flood victims in South Sudan surviving on grass


Some of the struggling flood-affected victims in Ayod County, Jonglei State (Photo: UNHCR)

By Awan Achiek

Flood victims in South Sudan’s remote flood-hit areas of Ayod County in Jonglei State have been forced by the condition to eat grass for survival.

Across Jonglei and Unity State, homes have been submerged, crops destroyed, leaving communities to scramble for a few strips of dry land.

Speaking to reporters during a Press Conference in Juba upon return from Jonglei State on Thursday, the Acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Arafat Jamal said persistence rains have washed away crops forcing women and children to eat grasses to stay alive.

“One of the most moving and shocking things for me is when someone threw pieces of grass on the ground and said “this is what we have to eat” Jamal told reporters in Juba.

“They said we have this (grass) and when we eat it, we get upset and fall sick but this is all we have to eat and to me, when I saw these people suffering, I see human dignity that is affected,” the Coordinator added.

The UN official revealed that the severe floods were caused by long-term global climate change.

“Floods are nothing new but what is different is that we are truly on the edge of climate change and climate catastrophic and what we are seeing now is that floods are coming in regularly and at a higher intensity than before,” Jamal said.

According to the acting UN Resident Coordinator, the flooding in Ayod County have affected the lives of roughly 30,000 people, leaving them without adequate food, water and shelter.

“The fact that the floods lasted for longer than usual is completely deteriorating the ability of the people to cope and to survive,” he stressed.

The UN Refugees Agency Country representative disclosed that there are more than 30,000 people stranded across the River Nile.

“These people are getting submerged and although they are surrounded by water, they have not clean water to drink and they are in a bad way,” he disclosed.

Residents who were displaced from their homes by flood waters earlier last year were forced to temporary camps on higher ground.

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