IOM distance self from dredging of Naam River

IOM distance self from dredging of Naam River
Bird’s eye-view of the Jonglei Canal. [Photo: The Independent]

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has dismissed allegations that it is funding the dredging of the Naam River in Unity State to mitigate the impacts of floods.

The Chief of Mission and Country Representative of IOM South Sudan, Peter Van de Auweraert, yesterday trashed the allegations on Twitter, adding that he was always available to share what they do in South Sudan.

“Not sure where you get this information from, but IOM South Sudan is not funding this dredging. Always available to discuss when you have concerns about what we do, including confirming whether or not the information you have is correct. In this case, it is not, “he said.

Yesterday, the vice-chancellor of the University of Juba, Prof John Akech, claimed IOM was funding the dredging of Naam River with a staggering $120 million.

“IOM is funding the dredging of the Naam River to the tune of US $120 million. Wonders never cease. The photos are from Monday, June 6 visit by Egyptian Ambassador Almoatez and IOM Country Representative Peter Van Der Auweraet to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ” Prof John Akech, said.

The human rights activist, Wani Michael, also claimed IOM funded the project and warned against the dangers of dredging rivers.

This was after Eye Radio yesterday reported that the presidential press secretary stated the government had not approved dredging of Nile tributaries.

Machines arrive

On Friday last week, the press secretary in the office of the governor of Unity State, Peter Portsix Bakuony, said they had received the machines to dredge Naam River.

He said the project was carried out according to an agreement between the national Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, and the Egyptian government, aimed at draining flood water for internally displaced people to return to their homes.

However, he refuted claims that the project was linked to the digging of Jonglei Canal or the dredging of the River Nile and its tributaries. 

“It is the national ministry of water and irrigation that has agreed with the Egyptian government to open the Bahr el Naam River to drain water.” That is the purpose of those machines, otherwise, they have nothing to do with River Nile, it has nothing to do with Jonglei Canal,” Bakuony said.

 “The state government and the national ministry of water and irrigation have a policy to open it up to drain flood water into it (Naam River) and most areas in Unity State will be dry. It is not for the purpose of opening the Nile because the state government is not responsible to open the Nile.”