Floods tear through delta in war-torn Sudan's southeast

Floods tear through delta in war-torn Sudan's southeast
The flooding comes as Sudan is embroiled in a nearly 15 month civil war that has pitted the Army against the Rapid Support Forces.
2 min read
Flooding near Kassala in south east Sudan usually occurs around August [Photo by HUSSEIN ERY/AFP via Getty Images]

Torrential flooding battered Sudan's southeast Tuesday, bringing entire villages underwater and causing homes to collapse, witnesses told AFP, in the first devastating weather event of Sudan's rainy season.

In Aroma, a town some 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of the major Sudanese city of Kassala, residents were "shocked this morning by the sudden water" after the collapse of a dirt barrier that functioned as a makeshift dam, local resident Ibrahim Issa told AFP over the phone.

The flooding, which usually occurs in the area later in the summer, follows increased rainfall in neighbouring Eritrea, feeding the Gash River.

Also known as the Mareb River, the waterway flows out of Eritrea and annually inundates the flat delta in eastern Sudan, just north of the Kassala state capital.

"Now everything in my house is completely underwater, I only managed to get my children out," Issa said.

By early afternoon, the waters had submerged large parts of Aroma as well as three nearby villages, according to a humanitarian worker in the area.

"The water is still coming," the worker told AFP, requesting anonymity because they are not authorised to speak to the media.

Photos shared on social media showed residents wading through thigh-level brown water.

AFP could not immediately verify the scale of the damage wrought by the flooding.

Each year, torrential rains and river flooding - which peak in August - destroy homes, wreck infrastructure and claim lives, both directly and indirectly through water-borne diseases.

The damage is expected to be much worse this year, after nearly 15 months of war that have decimated the country's already fragile infrastructure and pushed millions of displaced people into flood zones.

The World Meteorological Organization has predicted "above-normal rainfall" over most of the Greater Horn of Africa region this summer, which could spell disaster for Sudan's already flood-prone areas.

East African bloc IGAD's climate predictions chief, Guleid Artan, has warned of exceptionally high risk of flooding in both Sudan and South Sudan.

Aid groups have repeatedly warned that humanitarian access, already hampered by both rival forces, will be made nearly impossible as the waters isolate remote areas.

Sudan is already facing what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis in recent memory, as fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces shows no signs of abating.

A record 10.5 million people are currently displaced across the country, which has for months teetered on the brink of all-out famine.

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