UNITED NATIONS, Mar 28 (APP): Pakistani peacekeepers in South Sudan are now reinforcing the hundreds of kilometers of dykes they built some two years ago to save communities in the Unity state from the cascading waters and leaching mud, according to a UN press release.
When the water levels first began rising alarmingly in 2021, it said, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) engineers from Pakistan swiftly led the charge by building hundreds of kilometers of dykes, temporary defense structures against the raging flood waters.
“We were the first responders and constructed some 88 kilometers of dykes during the first phase,” Major Waqas Saeed Khan, Commanding Officer of the Pakistani engineers, said.
“When we arrived to Bentiu (Capital of the Unity state) in 2021,” Major Khan said, the water level was deep enough, but then it began to rise steadily even more to dangerous levels in some locations.
“Our work in past months has mainly been to reinforce dykes. We are transforming them into three-and-a-half meter high walls, which are wide enough for vehicles and people to use as roads,” he added.
According to Hiroko Hirahara, the UNMISS head, the Mission’s goal has been to forge partnerships with all counterparts—humanitarians, local communities, state authorities—to come up with a consolidated plan to alleviate widespread suffering of the flood-hit people.
Peacekeepers from Ghana and Mongolia also patrol the dykes continuously to report on and sandbag any breakage or leaks, the press release said, while the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, have provided thousands of affected civilians with substantial food, water, sanitation and hygiene assistance.