Pakistani army engineers, serving the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), helped save the city of Bentiu from being submerged by floodwaters as they rapidly constructed dykes to divert the flow of water away from the Unity state’s capital, according to a report received here.
Braving swampy soil and snake-infested waters, the engineers completed more than 4 kilometers of dykes in record time following an urgent request for help to UNMISS from the Acting State Governor, Joseph Montyuil, said.
Engineers from Pakistan, according to the report, were quick to act, moving heavy equipment to sites, which were most threatened, and rapidly constructing dykes to save the flood-hit city.
“The minute we received information from the Field Office that communities need our urgent intervention, we swung into action,” Lieutenant-Colonel Hameed Akbar, Commanding Officer of the Pakistan Military Engineers Task Force, said in statement.
“Time was of essence and so we speedily relocated essential equipment from other projects to intervene in Bentiu,” he added. “The speedy assistance given by UNMISS peacekeepers really saved us from calamity,” Franco Duoth, Chairperson of the Disaster Management Committee, said.
“The volume of water approaching Bentiu was huge and left unchecked, the town and surrounding areas would have been completely submerged causing untold misery and displacement,” he said. Acting Governor Montyuil agreed.
Continuous flooding across #SouthSudan is having a devastating impact on women and children. @unicefssudan’s Comms Officer, @richardruati says “everything is submerged”. Listen to the interview about floods in Jonglei state & our support. #SSOT #flood https://t.co/mVnffQaEBK
— UNICEF South Sudan (@unicefssudan) October 14, 2021
“Without UNMISS’ timely intervention, we would have faced a crisis like no other. The prompt action from Pakistani engineers, including pumping out water from homes and buildings which were already flooded, has saved Bentiu communities from much despair,” stated the Acting Governor.
Captain Yawar Abbas, the project leader, said, “The currents were massively strong and it was challenging for our engineers to complete these dykes, though we are trained for such emergencies.
“However, we are glad that we managed to help stop what could have been a major protection and humanitarian emergency here.” Commanding Officer Akbar added,
“This is exactly why we deploy to UN Peacekeeping—to help people who need us the most. We feel honoured that we have been of assistance and contributed towards the UNMISS mandate.”
While the imminent threat to Bentiu has been mitigated, the overall dangers of flooding remain, the report said. “The volume of water in Unity state is so high that it may take years to recede fully,” warns Duoth.
“Water levels are still rising, and we need support from the national government to mitigate this crisis,” he added.