US$ 283 million urgently needed to support people affected by COVID-19 in Sudan
The United Nations and humanitarian partners launched, on 19 July, an addendum to the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan to respond to growing humanitarian needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Sudan. The Plan seeks an additional US$ 283 million to support the Government-led response and provide life-saving assistance to more than 6.7 million people across the country.
“The global pandemic has changed the world and our lives. It exposed the social and economic inequality we have around the globe. Those who were already vulnerable, are becoming more vulnerable,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Gwi-Yeop Son, during the presentation of the new appeal. “COVID-19 reached Sudan at a time when an increasing part of the population was already struggling to meet their basic needs and the health system was already under stress”, explains Ms. Son.
Since the first person was diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-March, the pandemic has affected all 18 states in Sudan. COVID-19 is worsening the fragile humanitarian situation, characterized by the economic crisis, conflict and recurrent climate shocks, that leads to protected displacement, malnutrition, food insecurity and lack of basic services.
In the past months, Government and humanitarian partners have provided life-saving assistance to millions of people. Aid actors supported the country with COVID-19 testing kits and other medical supplies, trained over 1,600 health workers and provided them with personal protective equipment. Partners also distributed hygiene kits to nearly 500,000 people and reached over 25 million people with campaigns to raise awareness and prevent transmissions. Food assistance continued to reach millions of people, with 2.8 million assisted in May alone.
But the pandemic and its necessary containment measures have triggered a further economic slowdown and pushed people to their limits. “The food security situation is extremely worrying”, said Tinago Chikoto, the Deputy Head of Office for OCHA in Sudan, speaking about the humanitarian consequences of COVID-19. “More than 9.6 million people, almost a quarter of the population of Sudan, are now facing severe hunger. It is 65 per cent higher when compared to the same period last year,” warned Mr. Chikoto.
Food security is not the only worrying issue. Sudan’s health system, already under stress prior to the pandemic, has been further stretched. Approximately 81 per cent of the population do not have access to a functional health centre within two hours of their home and the situation is worsening, as many facilities have closed since the start of the pandemic. COVID-19 containment measures are also affecting the availability of drugs and other medical supplies, resulting in only 15 per cent of the essential medicines and supplies being available on the open market.
Prevention is also a challenge, as 63 per cent of the population lack access to basic sanitation services, 23 per cent do not have access to a hand-washing facility with soap and water and almost 35 per cent do not have access to safe drinking water. “This pandemic calls Government and partners to come together, increase our coordination and common efforts in the sectors of nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, and risk communication to be in a better situation to deal with the pandemic and to mitigate its effects, ” said the Minister of Labour and Social Development, Lena El Sheikh, during the presentation.
“Much more needs to be done. The cost of inaction is too high and unless we act now, we should be prepared for a series of human tragedies,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms. Son, in her final remarks. “Humanitarian organizations in Sudan stand ready to increase their operations and we appeal to the international community to come together and to timely and generously support the people of Sudan,” she concluded.
For a PDF copy of the Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan - COVID-19 Addendum (March - December 2020) click here.