Prioritize Evacuation of People from Flood-affected Areas, South Sudanese Bishop Appeals

Flooding in South Sudan declared national disaster by President Salva Kiir, thousands forced to seek higher ground for their safety.
Credit: Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)

At a time the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit has declared flooding in the world’s youngest nation a national disaster, the South Sudanese Bishop who had called for this declaration in an interview with ACI Africa is now urging the government and humanitarian organizations to prioritize the evacuation of people from flood-affected areas to safety.

“The first priority is to evacuate the people to dry places and the rest will come later on,” Bishop Stephen Nyodho told ACI Africa in an interview.

“A lot of things need to be done. First of all, the lives of people have to be saved, we are to try to save the lives of the people in the affected areas if there is a way of evacuating them,” Bishop Nyodho whose diocese of Malakal is one of the most affected areas of the country added. 

Explaining the need to prioritize evacuations for people’s safety, the Prelate said in direct reference to humanitarian agencies operating on the ground, “You cannot save lives by sending food when people are still living in the water.”

“They need to be taken out from that (floods) if there are places for them to be taken to,” the 46-year-old South Sudanese Bishop emphasized. 

On October 30, President Kiir declared a state of emergency in parts of his country where flooding has affected the livelihood of at least one million people, VOA reported.

Kiir declared flooding a national disaster "to enable the government and other institutions, other governments of goodwill, to render services," South Sudan’s Information Minister, Michael Makuei was quoted as telling reporters.

“The capacity of the flood was beyond any of these states, any of these counties and therefore even the government of South Sudan cannot manage to fight it alone," Bishop Nyodho said, reaching out to the international community to come to the aid of the affected people.

He suggests that the South Sudanese government “calls for other people, other neighbors, other friends, international community to come and help.”

Bishop Nyodho recalled his recent call for assistance saying, “This is what I needed before, that we come together and we try to fight this national disaster with one hand.”

With more rains expected during the next weeks, the conditions of the affected populations are set to worsen if help is delayed since homesteads have been submerged and, in some areas, crops completely washed away from farms.

Bishop Nyodho who is on a trip to Central Europe further told ACI Africa, “I will be talking about it (flooding) in Poland … I will be mentioning the situation of South Sudan with regard to humanitarian disaster with floods.”

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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]