Khartoum — The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan reported in its latest Situation Report on Thursday that the Sudanese government and the humanitarian community are taking measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The UN has launched a $2 billion Global Humanitarian Response Plan to fight the pandemic. The people who fled violence in West Darfur in the end of December 2019, have begun to return home.
As of March 25, the Sudanese Ministry of Health confirmed three cases of coronavirus in the country, including one death. A total of 16 people suspected to suffer from coronavirus is currently being monitored in isolation centres in Khartoum.
The Health Ministry has announced a national Covid-19 response plan with a budget of $82 million. State level response plans are currently in development. Authorities in West Darfur officially closed the border with Chad on 17 March. In North Darfur, the Ministry of Health has prepared isolation areas to monitor suspected cases.
The government has taken measures to halt the spread of Covid-19 including a curfew starting 24 March from 8pm to 6am until further notice, a ban on bus travel between states effective 26 March with the exception of humanitarian, commercial, and technical shipments, and closure of international and domestic airports until 23 April with the exception of humanitarian and cargo shipments.
All schools, universities, religious institutes, universities, colleges and higher institutes have been closed for one month, starting from 14 March. Basic certification exams in all states to be postponed until further notice. In addition, all festivals, camps, and sports events have been cancelled. Public gatherings such as weddings are banned until further notice.
The UN and partners continue to assist the Government of Sudan in Covid-19 response.
Unicef Communication and Risk Management team supported the Health Ministry, media, and the private sector with advocacy information on preventing the spread of the virus.
As a result of this advocacy, 105 mosques in Khartoum state raised awareness on Covid-19 prevention practices, and worshippers maintained physical distance during prayers.
Up to 27,000 posters were printed by private sector partners reaching about 540,000 people. A total of 86 orientation sessions were held at markets and public areas reaching about 12,900 people.
Humanitarian partners are developing scenarios and adjusting logistics planning to ensure continued delivery of services to vulnerable people across Sudan. Partners are updating contingency plans across the country and are moving supplies from central warehouses to regional storage facilities to ensure they have adequate supplies on hand.
A medical shipment sent by Chinese businessman Jack Ma to assist the country in facing the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in Khartoum on 23 March, with World Food Programme and other actors providing logistical support.
Measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including physical distancing and implementing alternate work arrangements will impact humanitarian programming and operations.
OCHA is following up on details of the implications of these measures to better understand how they will impact the humanitarian response. At the same time, a task force has been created to examine the impacts on front line operations of the measures to prevent the spread, as well as, possible scenarios in the event of a larger outbreak.
The Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), the Sudanese government body which oversees humanitarian work, gave all nonessential staff leave until 29 March. Some NGOs have reported delays in administrative procedures including the approval of technical agreements required to implement humanitarian projects.
The health system in Sudan has been affected by years of under-investment and economic crisis. Only one third of health facilities offer a complete basic package of care.
Health facilities are understaffed and underequipped to cope with largescale outbreaks, and there are significant shortages of essential medicines, according to the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for Covid-19.
Starting in April, partners in most locations are planning to organise advance food distribution and distribute 2-3 months of rations at one time, to limit the frequency of gatherings of people.
Global Humanitarian Response Plan launched
On 25 March, the UN launched a US$2 billion Covid-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. The global plan will help fight Covid-19 in some of the world's most vulnerable countries across South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia in a bid to protect millions of people.
"Our priority is to help these countries prepare and continue helping the millions who rely on humanitarian assistance from the UN to survive. Properly funded, our global response effort will equip humanitarian organizations with the tools to fight the virus, save lives, and help contain the spread of Covid-19 worldwide," said Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
The response plan will be implemented by UN agencies, with international NGOs and NGO consortia playing a direct role in the response. It will deliver essential laboratory equipment to test for the virus, and medical supplies to treat people; install handwashing stations in camps and settlements; launch public information campaigns on how to protect yourself and others from the virus; and establish airbridges and hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to move humanitarian workers and supplies to where they are needed most.
Newly displaced in West Darfur start returning home
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 27,995 people (6,126 families) remain displaced across 35 sites in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur.
This is a decrease of 9,913 people since the last update on 25 February.
Humanitarian agencies will continue to support the remaining displaced people in El Geneina. Violence in and around El Geneina in late December 2019 led to the displacement of some 40,000 people, of whom about 32,000 were already displaced people living in camps near the city.
In addition, an estimated 10,000 people fled across the border into Chad, taking refuge in villages near the border. Over 50 people were reportedly killed and about 60 injured.
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