SOUTH SUDAN / BENTIU FLOODS RESPONSE

12-Aug-2022 00:09:30
Bentiu town and much of Unity State, located in the north of South Sudan, are under water. Pakistani military engineers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) are working to ensure that the airport and the road adjacent to it are not inundated. UNMISS
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STORY: SOUTH SUDAN / BENTIU FLOODS RESPONSE
TRT: 09:30
SOURCE: UNMISS
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGES: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 26, 27 JULY 2022, BENTIU, SOUTH SUDAN / FILE
SHOTLIST
26 JULY 2022, BENTIU, SOUTH SUDAN

1. Various shots, water being pumped from airstrip side to different place
2. Various shots, women walking on road
3. Various shots, machinery building breached dyke
4. Various shots, road
5. Ariel shot, Bentiu area flooded
6. Various shots, rain in the night
7. Various shots, rain in the day
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Major Waqas Matloob, Flood Officer, Pakistani Military, UNMISS:
“There was water all around. So, what we did, is we started off with all the machinery, the construction of our protection around the camp. It was the first and foremost thing which we did. We worked round the clock. All the machinery was out, and along with the machine the operators, the manpower - both have borne equal toll. They have been through a lot.”
9. Various shots, dyke being raised
10. Various shots, road being leveled
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Major Waqas Matloob, Flood Officer, Pakistani Military, UNMISS:
“The challenges are not over yet. If there is heavy rain in the southern part of South Sudan or in the western part, we have flood here or we have some heavy amount of water which needs to be dewatered. It is a continuous process of re-raising of bunds and dykes or dewatering or the maintenance of the airstrip, or the MSR the main artery.”

FILE - BENTIU, SOUTH SUDAN

12. Various shots, flooded homes

27 JULY 2022, BENTIU, SOUTH SUDAN

13. Various of convoy driving on road

01 AUGUST 2022, JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN

14. SOUNDBITE (English) Hiroko Hirahara, Head of Office, Unity, UNMISS:
“We all had the institutional memory of conflict hotspots, and we also had a strategy to deal with it. We had planned programmes to implement. However now that the dynamic changed because all those areas that we used to have as conflict hotspots are under water - now [since] many people are coming to the smaller areas, we are having a reduction of the traditional crimes like cattle raiding. But at the same time those cattle raids are being concentrated to one area because everybody came there with their cows.”
15. Various shots, UNMISS Chief of Staff going to observation post
16. Pan right, observation post to see mass of water
17. SOUNDBITE (English) Hiroko Hirahara, Head of Office, Unity, United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS):
“Beyond Bentiu and Rubkona, there are a lot of other places – remote places, which are flooded as well and if our humanitarian colleagues or agencies - are not able to operate, that is going to affect local populations. That would be the worst-case scenario. At the end of the day, if everything goes down in water, we may not be able to stay.”
18. Wide shot, man in canoe
19. Various shots, Chief of Staff meeting with UNMISS civilian, humanitarian and military personnel

27 JULY 2022, KOCH, SOUTH SUDAN

20. Pan right, temporary operating base of Ghanaian military
21. Various shots, convoy driving though Koch town
22. Various shots, meeting with local authority

FILE – BENTIU, SOUTH SUDAN

23. Wide shot, people in canoe

27 JULY 2022, UNITY, SOUTH SUDAN

24. Aerial shot, flooded Unity area from chopper
STORYLINE
Bentiu town and much of Unity State, located in the north of South Sudan, are under water. Pakistani military engineers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) are working to ensure that the airport and the road adjacent to it are not inundated.

A clogged river Nile has burst its banks and the onset of the rainy season is making matters worse.
The situation is near critical.

SOUNDBITE (English) Major Waqas Matloob, Flood Officer, Pakistani Military, UNMISS:
“There was water all around. So, what we did, is we started off with all the machinery, the construction of our protection around the camp. It was the first and foremost thing which we did. We worked round the clock. All the machinery was out, and along with the machine the operators, the manpower - both have borne equal toll. They have been through a lot.”

For almost a year now, the Pakistani engineers have deployed heavy duty pumps and numerous heavy machinery like bulldozers, excavators, graders, and loaders, to help keep the waters away, and to level the main road there.

So far, over 80 kilometers of a dyke system has been constructed, and more that 1.2 million liters of water have been pumped from flooded areas.

SOUNDBITE (English) Major Waqas Matloob, Flood Officer, Pakistani Military, UNMISS:
“The challenges are not over yet. If there is heavy rain in the southern part of South Sudan or in the western part, we have flood here or we have some heavy amount of water which needs to be dewatered. It is a continuous process of re-raising of bunds and dykes or dewatering or the maintenance of the airstrip, or the MSR the main artery.”

Humanitarian actors are also working in other areas to ensure the waters are kept away.

Residents say that these are the worst floods in 60 years, due to the clogging of the Nile, and also because the area is a meeting point for three main tributaries of the Nile.

Agricultural land is under water. Some homes no longer exist. Others are flooded, and many have been abandoned. Some communities in search of higher ground have also been displaced.

Many roads are now difficult to use. Others are impassable. It takes longer, and a lot of skill, to drive along what is left of them. Going on patrols for both civilians and military is much harder than normal and requires intense planning.

SOUNDBITE (English) Hiroko Hirahara, Head of Office, Unity, UNMISS:
“We all had the institutional memory of conflict hotspots, and we also had a strategy to deal with it. We had planned programmes to implement. However now that the dynamic changed because all those areas that we used to have as conflict hotspots are under water - now [since] many people are coming to the smaller areas, we are having a reduction of the traditional crimes like cattle raiding. But at the same time those cattle raids are being concentrated to one area because everybody came there with their cows.”

With this backdrop, among other issues, the UNMISS Chief of staff travelled to the affected areas, to see for himself how the work of the Mission was getting affected.

In Bentiu, both military and civilian personnel narrated the challenges they have been facing daily, highlighting that the year-long floods are hampering movement.

At the temporary operating base in Koch, a short flight away from Bentiu, the delegation also heard that the military bases there have also been affected.

SOUNDBITE (English) Hiroko Hirahara, Head of Office, Unity, UNMISS:
“Beyond Bentiu and Rubkona, there are a lot of other places – remote places, which are flooded as well and if our humanitarian colleagues or agencies - are not able to operate, that is going to affect local populations. That would be the worst-case scenario. At the end of the day, if everything goes down in water, we may not be able to stay.”

With peacekeeping and humanitarian personnel continuing to find it challenging to access many areas, plans have been affected, resulting in less and less movement.

If the excessive flooding persists, it may be necessary to employ new creative means to reach near and far-flung places, which might become mostly accessible only during the dry season.

For now, the UNMISS military contingents from Pakistan, Mongolia, and Ghana located in Bentiu remain on high alert to ensure they respond fully and promptly to any flooding breaches, so that they can protect lives and livelihoods.
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