The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020 and a pandemic on 11 March 2020. The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected the entire global population and virtually every country. The most vulnerable groups have been overwhelmingly affected and remain the ones most at risk.
The outbreak led to countries taking measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic. The Government of Sudan, through the Ministry of Health spearheaded technical coordination and the country-wide response. In tandem, the United Nations continues to support the most vulnerable groups due to the challenges they face, among them internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan.
With the aim of ensuring that no one is left behind, UNHCR and IOM as part of a UN-wide COVID-19 response plan in Sudan, aim to support IDPs by co-leading an IDP Camp and Settlement Response COVID Task Force (hereafter referred to as the Task Force). The Task Force was established in May 2020 and envisaged to be operational for an initial period of three months. The objective of the Task Force is to ensure effective coordination of multi-sector COVID-19 preparedness and response in IDP camps, in close collaboration with the health sector and other relevant actors.
The Task Force is a body built around the CCCM approach and incorporates the eight pillars of action which form the National COVID-19 response plan, one which covers initiatives stretching from health to logistics, all aimed at ensuring that COVID-19 is managed and people requiring care and support are not left behind.
Under the auspices of the Humanitarian Country Team, the Task Force is vigorously working towards ensuring that IDPs receive the support they deserve in order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. UNHCR and IOM have started to support and guide field-based actors such as national NGOs, this initiative aims to ensure delivery of essential information and services in support of any need. Given the complexity of COVID-19 response and the ground-level support required, coordinated efforts are critical for all COVID-19 initiatives.
The geographic focus of the Task Force is on the five Darfur states, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. IOM is responsible for ensuring state-level coordination in Central Darfur, West Darfur and South Kordofan, whilst UNHCR is responsible for ensuring state-level coordination in North Darfur, East Darfur, South Darfur and Blue Nile.
In support of activities of the Task Force, focal points were appointed in the field for each state. The state focal points lead teams on the ground, including the IDP site coordinators /lead partners and focal point. The sites are as follows: one site in East Darfur, one site in West Darfur, four sites in Blue Nile, five sites in South Kordofan, seven sites in Central Darfur, eight sites in North Darfur, twelve sites in South Darfur.
The Task Force developed lists of IDP sites based on multiple sources, validated by HAC as a baseline to commence working, while verifying and cleaning up the list. 38 sites were identified and prioritized while agreeing to have several rounds of surveys to capture the remaining unassessed locations. The 38 locations formed the baseline for this survey and analysis. A KOBO based, 97 question survey was put together based on suggestions provided by sector leads. While the survey was being developed and conducted, all the relevant actors of the Task Force commenced activities on ground with priority sectors of health, RCCE, WASH, protection, shelter and NFIs.
The survey was done to ensure that information on services and gaps was identified systematically. The survey was primarily supported by partners on the ground without whom this data collection would not be possible. All measures to the extent possible were taken to ensure adherence to COVID-19 safe distancing protocols . The analysis provides a firsthand view of the ground-level situation rather than a scientific analysis. Some of the statistics remain variable due to the timing of the survey which was conducted while the COVID-19 response plans were being operationalized. Some of the gaps identified may have already been filled at the time of release of this analysis.
With the extended COVID response required, mainstreaming will be the next step in the strategy of the Task Force while also launching additional surveys to capture the locations that have not yet been assessed.