JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — At least 20 people have died in flooding in recent months amid torrential rains that are still afflicting a remote part of South Sudan, an official said Thursday.
The deaths between July and September occurred in one county of Warrap State, Gorial West County Commissioner Victor Wek Koor said.
Among the victims are children who drowned when a waterlogged house collapsed, he said.
Officials in other areas have not cited deaths related to flooding.
Many parts of South Sudan have been hit by flooding since July, and some areas are currently submerged. The states of Unity and Jonglei are among the most affected. Even the residence of President Salva Kiir in the northwestern state of Warrap is waterlogged, according to Information Minister Michael Makuei.
A group chaired by First Vice President Riek Machar last week declared a national emergency due to flooding across the country.
Wek said 17,000 people have been displaced by the floods in his county, home to over 240,000. The homeless are taking shelter in highland areas and along roads.
Some local people who spoke to The Associated Press described a desperate situation as floodwaters rise and rivers deluge farmland, swallowing up livestock.
Deng John, a resident of Gogrial West who lost a sister in the flooding, said the situation feels like a “disaster.”
South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, is particularly prone to flooding when the Nile river bursts its banks.
Floods have displaced around 426,000 people across the country since May, according to the United Nations humanitarian affairs office.
The U.N. World Food Program said earlier this month that it had suspended food aid to over 100,000 displaced people in the country, warning of further reductions unless it receives more cash.
Since achieving independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan has faced multiple political crises, and is struggling to recover from the aftermath of a civil war that left nearly 400,000 people dead.
A fragile power-sharing deal between President Kiir and his deputy Machar still largely holds, although little progress has been achieved in fulfilling its terms.