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The worst floods in South Sudan threaten hundreds of thousands

Published November 24,2021
An aerial view shows the flood affected areas at the Bentiu displacement camp, this image taken by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on October 31, 2021. (Medecins Sans Frontiere/via Reuters)

Severe flooding in South Sudan has endangered hundreds of thousands of people in the world's youngest country, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Wednesday.

The international aid organization said that around 800,000 people had been affected by the worst floods to have hit the region in decades.

Weather forecasts indicate more rain to come.

People living in flood-affected areas have not been able to grow food, as the lands have remained submerged for more than a year.

The situation in the northern town of Bentiu is particularly bad.

MSF says at least 150,000 people are affected here, with many having fled their villages. About 120,000 of them are being housed in ill-equipped refugee camps.

Conditions are overcrowded and unhygienic. The sewage treatment plant has not been operational for weeks because of the flooding and there are almost no usable latrines.

Dead animals, such as goats and dogs, rot in the sewer systems, and there is not enough drinking water available.

At an MSF clinic in Bentiu, many children are severely malnourished and the number of malaria patients is increasing - the stagnant floodplain water being an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Other waterborne diseases, such as hepatitis E, diarrhoea and cholera also threaten to spread.

South Sudan, which gained independence in July 2011 after decades of civil war in Sudan, is still marked by the consequences of the conflict. Infrastructure outside of the capital, Juba, is poor, with terrible roads making it difficult to get supplies to remote areas like Bentiu.