12 September 2012

South Sudan: UNHCR Concerned for Refugees' Welfare As Rains Pound Maban County

press release

The UN refugee agency is concerned about the welfare of refugees in the four camps in Maban County, Upper Nile State, hard hit by heavy rains over the past few days.

UNHCR is working with local authorities as well as other UN agencies to mitigate flooding damage and to put in place emergency response measures.

"Our top priority is to make sure that refugees do not suffer because of this extreme weather, which is already affecting the local population in certain areas of Bunj town." said Mireille Girard, UNHCR's representative for South Sudan.

Yesterday the main road through Bunj, capital of Maban County, to the three camps of Doro, Yusuf Batil and Gendrassa was flooded. Although the road is badly affected, a UNHCR and UNOPS assessment team managed to reach the three camps, which collectively host about 89,500 refugees. All camps were found to be muddy as is normal in this season but without major flooding. [UNOPS, a UN agency that provides management services to humanitarian operations, is maintaining roads in support of humanitarian operations in Maban county.]

"We are watching the situation closely and we hope we will be able to continue providing services and relief items as normal to the 108,000 refugees we are assisting in Maban County," said Girard.

Initial reports indicate that Jamam (the fourth camp) is not seriously affected by the floods at this stage. Jamam is situated 70km from Bunj and currently hosts about 18,500 Sudanese refugees. The refugee population in Jamam has been cut by almost 50% through the relocation to the new site at Gendrassa. That exercise is continuing.

The road leading from Jamam to Gendrassa is deteriorating with the heavy rains and the passage of humanitarian trucks. "We are intensifying efforts by calling in extra crews from private companies to complement UNOPS' work on the road," Girard added.

"With the current flooding in the Bunj area, these engineering teams will be overstretched in the coming weeks to secure vital humanitarian access and complete the all-important work of moving refugees to drier ground."

UNHCR has joined a flood-response team convened by county authorities, along with experts from the local government and other UN agencies.

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