Heavy rain and severe flooding have had devastating impacts in recent months on camps for refugees and internally displaced people in Maban, South Sudan where JRS serves. The floods have destroyed housing, roads, and schools and left many people in search of dry ground. On Monday, October 14, flood water rose more than six feet high, with strong currents, destroying even more in its wake.
Two deaths have already been confirmed, eight people are reported missing, and many more are at risk of disease, sickness, and hunger.
Though some staff have been evacuated, some JRS staff remain and are working to respond to the needs of the refugees and local community who have been impacted. Many of the facilities that JRS uses, including our learning center, have been severely damaged or destroyed.
Matt Ippel, S.J., a Jesuit who works for JRS in Maban, describes his experience:
“More flooding reached Maban in the early hours of Monday morning. This time significantly worse. We’ve now had a few big floods since August, but the flooding these days has been indiscriminate, reaching the compounds of all the humanitarian organization, the refugee camps (some worse than others), and destroying countless homes in the host community where we live. As for us, every part of our compound was flooded… offices, rooms, latrines, dining hall. We lost numerous food and material supplies. People have moved from what’s left of their homes in search for some higher ground, which sadly is quite sparse. Many families are living on the main road. It’s heartbreaking. Roads are inaccessible by vehicles. Hospital is cut off from most communities. Food, shelter, and clean water are major concerns. A few cases of drowning have been reported. While our situation at JRS is quite serious, it’s devastating to see the suffering all around us. Maban was suffering before. Now, with floods and rains (which are happening as I share this), suffering doesn’t seem to capture the gravity of what’s happening and what people are experiencing.
I share this to let you know what’s happening in a largely forgotten place. I share this because the suffering here cannot go unnoticed and requires a compassionate response. I share this because for decades people in Maban have lacked support from national and international authorities. I share this because I have to. Because we all encounter hardships in our lives, in varying degrees, and we usually overcome them and learn to bare them when others accompany and support us in that process. Please pray for Maban, for our JRS team and other humanitarians, and especially for the people who don’t have the resources like we do to support and care for themselves and their communities. And Please consider supporting our work as there’s a long road ahead.”
Before the storms, JRS’s work in Maban included training for teachers, school materials, a daycare for disabled children, home visits, counseling, and emergency assistance. JRS Maban also coordinates social centers for refugee women, while providing them opportunities to learn tailoring, life skills, and gain psychosocial support. JRS’s work in South Sudan is supported by the United States Department of State Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration.
As we look to help rebuild and continue our work to accompany, serve, and advocate for refugees in Maban, we ask that you please consider a gift to Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.