UNMISS engineers from Pakistan continue to mount an extraordinary response to save lives, sustain livelihoods and protect civilians in Bentiu, South Sudan. Image Credit: UNMISS

Islamabad: Pakistan engineers serving with United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) are shoring up temporary structures to save lives in Bentiu, South Sudan, from the effects of relentless floods.

Pakistani UN peacekeepers are now reinforcing the hundreds of kilometers of dykes that they built in 2021 to save communities in Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, from the cascading waters and leaching mud.

“In Bentiu, South Sudan, two years of incessant floods have created a climate crisis like no other this young nation has seen before. However, UNMISS engineers from Pakistan continue to mount an extraordinary response to save lives, sustain livelihoods and protect civilians”, according to the UN mission.

“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,” said Major Waqas Saeed Khan, Commanding Officer of the Pakistani engineers, the state media reported.

When the water levels first began rising in 2021, UNMISS engineers from Pakistan led the charge by building hundreds of kilometers of dykes, temporary defense structures against the raging flood waters.

Pakistani military engineers acted quickly, moving heavy equipment to sites that were most threatened, and rapidly began constructing dykes to divert the flow of water away from the town.

“We were the first responders and constructed some 88 kilometers of dykes during the first phase,” said Major Khan.

He recalled that “in 2021, the water level was 90 centimeters deep. By 2022, water levels virtually doubled, and, now, in 2023, we are talking of around 190 centimeters of flood waters in some locations.” UNMISS peacekeepers from Ghana and Mongolia are also patrolling the dykes continuously to report on and sandbag any breakage or leaks.

In the past two years, continuous rainfall has caused massive devastation as “homes have been swept away, people’s farms and crops destroyed” and displaced thousands of people displaced, according to a UN statement. UN mission has forged partnerships with humanitarians, local communities, and state authorities for a consolidated plan to alleviate widespread suffering and offer food, water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance.

UNMISS is taking measures to protect civilians and their properties from floodwaters in South Sudan, especially in places like Bentiu by maintaining vital dykes. UN peacekeepers are using all-terrain vehicles to navigate difficult terrain and assist in delivering humanitarian aid to areas inaccessible due to floods.

Pakistan has made significant contributions to UN peacekeeping over six decades. Since 1960, over 200,000 Pakistani men and women served with distinction and bravery across 46 UN Missions all over the world. As of December 2022, Pakistan has 4,331 military and police personnel, actively contributing to UN peacekeeping operations.