JUBA, South Sudan

South Sudan’s president has declared a state of emergency in areas of the country affected by floods.

Salva Kiir, president of the East African nation, placed Jonglei state and the Pibor Administrative Area under a state of emergency due to communal violence and floods.

“The president has declared a state of emergency in the areas which are flooded. The reason for the emergency is to help people, not to detain them,” Ateny Wek Ateny, presidential spokesman, told Anadolu Agency by phone Thursday in the capital Juba.

He said that after the order, the Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Ministry will seek international support for the flood victims. Thousands of people displaced by heavy rains and floods in Jonglei are now facing the twin threats of hunger and disease.

The water level in flood-hit areas has risen 1.5 meters (4.9 feet). Aid agencies fear the floods will aggravate the prevailing food crisis in the region. Many health facilities and nutrition centers used to shelter people are currently under water.

Lack of access to basic services and markets has made people more vulnerable. Disease is spreading due to water contamination. Access to hygiene and sanitation is limited, especially for women.

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