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South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan January 2020-December 2021 Addendum: 2020 Mid-year COVID-19 Revision

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South Sudan 2020 Regional RRP Mid-Year Revision

In June and July 2020, a mid-year revision of the 2020 South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP) was undertaken as an inter-agency consultative process to discuss and document the reprioritization of activities and corresponding budgets for the rest of the year, taking into account the impacts of COVID-19 and other developments.
This Addendum and its accompanying budget revision summarize the impact of the pandemic and response priorities, as well as introducing an additional regional strategic objective and reporting indicators to reflect additional activities.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses significant challenges to South Sudanese refugees throughout the region, due to the population density in refugee camps, settlements and in urban settings, lack of awareness, poor health and nutrition status and inadequate sanitary provisions and humanitarian assistance. The South Sudanese refugee population in the region remains the largest and one of the most vulnerable and fragile. As of August 2020, there had not been any major outbreak in any of the camps or settlements hosting South Sudanese refugees in the region, but the COVID-19 pandemic had yet to peak in any of the countries hosting South Sudanese refugees and is expected to be a key feature of the refugee response landscape into 2021.

While international borders were mostly closed from March through July 2020, new South Sudanese asylum-seekers have continued to arrive in asylum countries in the region. Additional facilities are needed in border areas and in the proximity of refugee camps to allow for medical screening and quarantine of new arrivals.

Impact of COVID-19 and Needs

The health facilities in refugee camps and other refugee hosting locations throughout the region are basic with inadequate medical supplies and poor infrastructure that do not meet infection control standards. These facilities do not have the capacity for intensive care management and referral mechanisms are weak due to resource constraints.
The situation is aggravated by the remoteness of many of these locations, posing communications and logistics challenges. There is need to improve shelters in transit and reception facilities to prepare for an influx of refugees and to work with the health sector to ensure sufficient infrastructure for waiting areas, quarantine and isolation facilities.

Due to limited agriculture and livelihood opportunities, the vast majority of South Sudanese refugees rely on food distributions. Due to funding shortfalls and severe food ration cuts (30% in Kenya and in Uganda) nutrition is below minimum standards. High rates of acute malnutrition have been observed, which can negatively impact immune systems and introduce additional co-morbidities, increasing the risk of COVID-19 infection. Women and girls are at heightened risk of gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse. There is also an increased risk of survival sex among refugees and other negative coping mechanisms. Loss of income related to lockdowns and decreasing job opportunities has affected many refugees, in particular those with specific needs, such as persons with disabilities, unaccompanied and separated children and other vulnerable refugees.

The long disruption of education activities and learning is affecting hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugee children. COVID-19 prevention and control measures, particularly the closure of schools, adversely affect the development, safety, and well-being of children. Extended school closures are resulting in heightened exposure to protection risks such as teenage pregnancies, sexual abuse, early marriage, violence at home, child labour, high school dropouts and erosion of hard-won gains made over the years to improve schooling access and quality. Refugee girls and children with disabilities are disproportionally affected by the closures.