JUBA, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- The UN humanitarian agency said Tuesday unusually heavy seasonal flooding is affecting large areas of South Sudan, with estimates indicating that between 600,000 and 800,000 people have been affected.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and other aid agencies have expressed concern that flooding will increase the risk of malnutrition due to the destruction of personal food stocks and crops.
"As of late October, Ayod, Maban, Mayom, Nyirol, Pibor and Uror in Greater Upper Nile were among the counties most heavily affected by the floods," OCHA said in its latest report on flooding.
"Based on assessments already conducted in affected areas, and in line with experience from previous floods in South Sudan, critical needs include access to safe drinking water, anti-malarial and other basic drugs, and plastic sheets to be used as temporary shelters for families with damaged or destroyed houses," it said.
The UN and other aid agencies are assessing emergency needs in at least 10 locations even as floods can be good news to refill groundwater and revive agriculture and fishing.
In places where the water level has receded, OCHA said humanitarian organizations are responding to assessed needs, in support of the government.
It said regular humanitarian response in line with the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan is ongoing in flood-affected counties and can be adjusted based on assessed priority needs.
An international medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said it has launched emergency assessments in the east and northeast of South Sudan where severe flooding has left thousands of people stranded in inaccessible areas, threatening to make worse an already catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
"We are urging all organizations to mobilize resources to mitigate the impact of rising flood levels in affected locations, and to ensure adequate attention is given to Pibor, in the east of the country," MSF said in a statement.
In an effort to continue providing services, the MSF said its team constructed a tented facility on higher ground, but this is expected to flood within days.
"As soon as possible, the remaining nine patients in our care will be moved to a safer location," says Roderick Embuido, MSF's medical coordinator in South Sudan.
"With a reinforced team including a field coordinator, medical activities manager and water and sanitation manager, we are urgently working in Pibor to again move and set up another temporary tented facility in a higher location."
According to UN, some seven million people are already in dire need of humanitarian assistance and the consequences of severe flooding will further exacerbate their situation, undermining resilience, coping mechanisms and access to life-saving services.