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South Sudan Flash Flooding Displaces Thousands

FILE - Swamps surround a village in Ayod County, northern South Sudan, July 3, 2018. Rains that began Sept. 15, 2019, caused flash floods that have displaced thousands of people in the rebel-controlled county.

Flash floods caused by torrential rains that began Sunday have displaced thousands of people in rebel-controlled Ayod County in Fangak state, according to local rebel officials Thursday. Residents say they have lost everything and are pleading for humanitarian aid.

Yien Nhial Madhier, the Ayod County SPLM-IO-appointed commissioner, says the floods have submerged shelters, water sources and crops in six payams, or sub-counties.

Madhier says more than 4,000 households are especially hard hit and in dire need of help.

"We do have here 4,413 households affected by the floods. There are no alternatives for me to help them. Just, I really report it to all the humanitarian aid [organizations], and [request that they] come to assist the situation happening in Gorwai," Madhier told South Sudan in Focus.

Thow Dor Pouch, who represents a group called Christian Mission for Development in Ayod County, says a preliminary assessment carried out two days ago indicates more households were affected than previously thought, including Yien, Juach, Kher, Werial Pajiek, Buotand Kuotyang payams.

"It may be almost 6,000 [households]. Six payams is beyond 15,000 [people], a very high number," Pouch told South Sudan in Focus.

A typical South Sudanese household is six people or more, according to U.N. agencies and the South Sudan government.

'Everything is a mess'

Gorwai resident Elizabeth Nyannhial Reath, 30, says she lost cooking utensils, food and mattresses in the floods. She says she and her five children are sleeping out in the open air.

"We need mosquito nets. We need saucepans. The small food left is in water. We need ... we don't have food. We need food. We didn't plant crops since June," Reath told South Sudan in Focus.

Forty-two-year-old John Tut Chuol, who heads a household of 13 and is the head chief of Gorwai village, says he lost more than 70 goats in the floods.

"Everything is a mess in our community. Two children are missing. Other flood victims are now coming from other payams. People have no place to go. We are now preparing to die because of this water," Chuol told VOA.

Pouch says aid workers have suspended damage assessments from the floods until water levels subside.