World Bulletin/News Desk
Following heavy rainfall earlier this week, a U.N. shelter for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South Sudan's northern Unity State has been completely submerged, worsening refugees' plight.
"We are very dismayed by the adverse impact of the recent rains on living conditions inside the protection-of-civilians [PoC] site at the [U.N.] mission's compound near the Unity State capital of Bentiu," Joseph Contreras, spokesman for the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), told Anadolu Agency on Friday.
"We had made some progress in recent weeks in lowering the levels of floodwaters inside the site, but the heavy rainfall appears to have reversed those gains," Contreras lamented.
According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), large parts of the camp – which hosts over 47,000 IDPs – have been flooded, with latrines collapsing and floodwaters contaminated, further affecting the health of IDPs who are already living in dire circumstances.
"Heavy rain on October 5 caused flash flooding in Bentiu's PoC [site], leaving 80 percent of the site under water," a weekly fact sheet, issued by UNICEF on Friday, read.
"Shelters and humanitarian facilities are destroyed and inundated with contaminated water," it added. "Damage to facilities varies from PoC to PoC; some 200 latrines have collapsed altogether."
Contreras, the UNMISS spokesman, said there was no possibility of relocating IDPs from the waterlogged PoC site.
"Unfortunately, there is no alternative site available where we can relocate the IDPs [currently] living at the UNMISS compound," Contreras said.
"The mission will continue to work with U.N. agencies and humanitarian partners to drain water with the use of pumps and excavators to alleviate the unacceptable living conditions facing most of the [site's] population," Contreras added.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused Riek Machar, his sacked vice president, of plotting to overthrow his regime.
Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have since been displaced in fighting between them, leading to an increasingly dire humanitarian situation for large swathes of the country's population.
In recent months, the warring rivals have held on-again, off-again peace talks in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African trade bloc based in Djibouti.
Contreras stressed that the mission's compounds were not designed to host large numbers of IDPs.
"Our facilities were never designed to host such large populations… the PoC sites do not represent viable, long-term solution to the plight of these individuals," he said.
The mission spokesman added: "UNMISS hopes the main parties to the [country's political] crisis can reach a comprehensive agreement to end the fighting as soon as possible and enable the nearly 100,000 people living in our compounds to return to their places of origin."
Meanwhile, UNICEF officials have said that efforts were currently underway to bring excavators and pumps to the site with which to drain water from affected areas.
"UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration have installed four trash pumps… to drain water out of the flooded Bentiu PoCs," the fund said in a statement.Last Mod: 10 Ekim 2014, 23:36