CORONA VIRUS CRISIS
UNHCR rushed soap to over 260,000 people in Sudan in recent weeks – and counting
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, stays and delivers. In Sudan, it joined the inter-agency effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to prepare a response to a potential outbreak among refugees, IDPs and their host communities.
To prevent infections, UNHCR and partners distributed soap to 260,000 people in recent weeks.
UNHCR, WHO, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health are running a massive awareness campaign, including among refugees, IDPs and host communities. In Khartoum, 15,000 text messages were sent to urban refugees sharing health awareness and prevention advice.
Hundreds of individuals were released from immigration detention in Khartoum last week. COR (Commission for Refugees), with the support of UNHCR, intervened on nine unregistered and undocumented asylum seekers who had deportation orders issued against them. They were eventually released to COR and transferred to Shagarab camp in East Sudan.
Prevention and preparedness
UNHCR and partners are supporting personal hygiene through handwashing stations, water tanks and distribution of soap. Over 260,000 beneficiaries received soap, provided by UNHCR, in recent weeks, with a special focus on women and girls:
In the refugee camps in East Sudan (Girba, Um Gargour, Shagarab etc.) some 29,000 women and girls of reproductive age received an additional piece of soap from UNHCR and distributed by the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) as part of personal hygiene kits along with underwear and sanitary cloth.
In White Nile, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development distributed soap to five camps, the distribution in the other four camps is ongoing.
In East Darfur refugees in and outside camps received soap from the American Refugee Committee, in South Darfur, some 32,000 South Sudanese refugees received it through UNHCR’s government partner WES (Water and Environmental Sanitation).
The Beliel registration centre in South Darfur also received water tanks with a capacity of 1,000 liters to allow for more systematic handwashing. UNHCR procures soap from a factory in Khartoum to support the local economy.
A surveillance system on COVID-19 has been set up in all refugee camps. UNHCR has worked with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to make sure all the health partners, outreach workers and community volunteers along with UNHCR staff are trained about the guidelines on how to identify a potential case so that they can advise on self-isolation and inform the health authority for further checks. Should they confirm the transmission of the virus through a test, the surveillance protocol foresees that the information is reported up to the national level. UNHCR made sure that this surveillance system is working. It includes a regular “zero” reporting if there are no potential cases. So far, the partners participating in the system reported “zero” every day.
As a matter of preparedness, UNHCR, in coordination with partners, has already disseminated treatment protocols and initiated training of health staff on these protocols in collaboration with the MOH and WHO. Together with partners, potential isolation centers were identified in some locations.
New arrivals in East Sudan are screened on symptoms of COVID-19 in a clinic: The International Humanitarian and Charity Organization, with support from UNHCR, is taking their temperature. The new arrivals stay in quarantine for observation for two weeks. In case of any relevant symptoms, they are isolated and the health authorities are alerted. If they need further medical checks, they are first transferred to a quarantine facility where UNHCR is providing food and non-food-items such as mosquito nets.