IOM Assists Thousands of People Affected by Floods and Conflict in South Sudan’s Greater Pibor Administrative Area

Published Date: 
Fri, 04/23/2021

Pibor - “When someone is shooting at you, you run. You will pick up your children and run.”

Ngachun Nyecho, recounts a night back in June 2020 when she and her children escaped heavy fighting which left many dead and homes in her village of Gummuruk razed to the ground.

“Even if you lose your shoe when running, you will leave your shoe behind. What is a shoe when you are trying to save your life and that of your children?” the mother of five rhetorically asks while holding her newborn baby boy. Her other children standing behind her with wide smiles oblivious of what is going on around them.

Like Ngachun and her children, many people ran to the bush to seek safety. Eventually, they made their way to Pibor town, the state capital of the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) situated several kilometers from their village

With only clothes on their backs and a few personal belongings they managed to gather before fleeing Gummuruk, Ngachun, who was pregnant at the time, and her family did not have much when they reached Pibor.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) supported communities displaced by the violence in Gummuruk by distributing plastic sheets and rubber ropes to help put up temporary emergency shelters adjacent to the United Nations base in Pibor.

“If it wasn’t for IOM, Walai my children and I would be sleeping under the sky,” says Ngachun.

Months after her escape from her village, Ngachun and her children were still in Pibor not sure when they would return to Gummuruk.

Persistent heavy rainfall across South Sudan had caused massive flooding, with Jonglei state and the GPAA being the worst affected. The unprecedented flooding across South Sudan exacerbated humanitarian needs particularly for internally displaced persons (IDPs) like Ngachun who were still reeling from the displacement caused by localized conflict.

“When the fighting had stopped and we thought we could finally go back home to pick up our lives, we could not because now the floods were fighting us,” says Ngachun. “Our village was underwater.”

Those affected by the flash floods needed food and livelihood support, emergency shelter and non-food items, water, sanitation and hygiene and primary health care and protection services.

IOM reached more than 1,250 people with plastic sheets and kitchen sets, blankets and mosquito nets and much more. The population reached included IDPs from outside of Pibor displaced by the floods and the fighting, as well as the host community many of whom had been displaced from their homes to higher ground to escape the flood waters. 

Humanitarian agencies like IOM continue to respond to the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable.

IOM installed the Surface Water Treatment System to ensure that people have access to safe drinking water and for domestic use. IOM also provided critical items such as, jerricans, water storage buckets and aqua tabs used to purify water. These lifesaving items were procured and released to IOM and other humanitarian partners by IOM’s Core Pipeline unit.

IOM South Sudan flood response activities are funded by the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA).

This article was written by Liatile Putsoa, IOM South Sudan Media and Communications Officer.