Geneva, Oct. 19, (dpa/GNA) - Devastating floods have caused a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, with at least 700,000 people affected, Arafat Jamal, the head of the UN refugee agency there said on Tuesday.
In many places, water flooded areas where there had previously been drought, leaving the soil unable to absorb the water.
The floods left people stranded on islands or wading through the water for days in order to reach higher ground.
Livestock drowned and fields were destroyed in the high waters.
South Sudan, with 11 million inhabitants, is accustomed to flooding, Jamal said, citing a major disaster in 1962.
However, such flooding is becoming more frequent and more intense as global warming leads to more frequent and damaging weather extremes.
"We see the erasure of the future," Jamal said. If fields are destroyed every year and livestock are killed, it will be harder and harder for people to start over, he said.
As more and more people move to higher ground to try to survive, tensions rise, fuelling conflict in a country that has already suffered years of civil war.
Humanitarian workers and volunteers are currently distributing food, filling bags with sand and building dykes.
However, funds are in short supply, Jamal said, as an appeal for 1.7 billion dollars for South Sudan has only received 61 per cent of the donation target.