Boat Carrying Humanitarian Aid in South Sudan Sinks

A boat overloaded with tons of humanitarian aid headed for South Sudan’s Fangak state capsized and sank Sunday, an official with a boat trade union told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus.

The boat, carrying aid from the U.N. World Food Program, was traveling north, from Bor in Jonglei state to Fangak state, when it capsized and sank in the Nile River, according to Elijah Thongbor, secretary general for the Jonglei Boat Trade Union in Bor.

There were no casualties reported.

“This motorboat was supposed to carry 80 metric tons only, according to its capacity, but they loaded it with 90 metric tons. Now the problem is with some boat owners. We have realized that they allow their boats to be overloaded so that they can get more money, but that is not good,” Thongbor said.

He said the World Food Program contracted with the owners of a number of vessels to move the food to Fangak.

A WFP officer, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media, told VOA that one of the vessels began to fall apart after it left Bor en route to Fangak.

Thongbor confirmed the officer’s account. “Eight boats were loaded here in Bor by WFP to take food to Fangak state,” he said.”Unfortunately, when these boats were on their way, sailing on the river Nile, one of them broke and sank with all the food at a place called Achier.”

The WFP spokesman in South Sudan, Tomson Phiri, could not be reached by phone or email for comment.

Aid crucial

Fangak information minister Elijah Pajok Buom said more than 280,000 people live in Fangak state, and many of them depend on the humanitarian assistance.

“My message to WFP is to hurry up, because we are now reaching the rainy season, so that the food [that was meant] to reach these communities will be enough. Secondly, they are targeting the places of opposition [under rebel control], but the places of government, we don’t have enough humanitarian assistance from the WFP,” Buom told South Sudan in Focus.

Transport along the Nile River between Jonglei and Fangak states had just resumed late last month following weeks of suspension over insecurity in the region.

In March, two rival communities from the Jonglei and Eastern Lakes states clashed over which community owned Liet-Buoi, an area located between them. At least two people were killed, according to authorities.

Source: Voice of America