Sudan: An urgent call to protect internally displaced persons from COVID- 19 threat

Sudan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic must include everyone, including those forced by internal insecurity to flee their homes.

(20 April 2020) African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) is deeply concerned about the potential impact that COVID-19 could have on the already vulnerable thousands of Sudanese internally displaced persons (IDPs). The Sovereign Council together with armed resistance movements must work together to find solutions to contain the outbreak. We call upon the Sovereign Council and Sudanese armed movements to urgently come up with an agreed action plan designed to protect internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the conflict zones of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan from the spread of COVID-19.

The action plan that provides for equal distribution of health care services across the country must be included in the Sudanese National Emergency Action Plan against COVID -19 under supervision of the Federal Minster of health. The Sovereign Council must also coordinate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ensure that Darfurian refugees in Eastern Chad and across the Sudanese boarders are also protected from the threat of COVID-19 especially now that countries bordering Sudan have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

It is vital that international support to the government is urgently stepped up to meet the massive needs. This must include funding for measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 and to promote the inclusion of IDPs in national preparedness and responses efforts. UNHCR is already working with the government, sister UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to implement various actions including creating awareness amongst IDPs in camps and informal settlements about hygiene and physical distancing.

Sudan is one country in the African continent that has witnessed armed conflicts for decades since her independence. First there was the civil war between the North and the South (now South Sudan) followed by uprisings in the regions of Darfur, and the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan. As a result of these wars, thousands of Sudanese remain displaced and live in neighboring countries or in displaced people’s camps within Sudan. As of July 2019, Sudan had 1.86 million IDPs. Already disadvantaged by their displacement, these IDPs are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to living in overcrowded conditions, lack of proper sanitation, inadequate access to clean water and decent healthcare. We therefore call on Sudanese authorities to ensure that IDPs are able to access health facilities and services in a non-discriminatory manner.

Sudanese authorities must also ensure that IDPs are included in national plans to combat COVID-19, including access to reliable information. Without critical information about the coronavirus, IDPs may not only risk spreading the infection, but find themselves in violation of new policies. We further call on authorities to strengthen health care systems in the host communities to ensure that the pandemic does not have disproportionate impacts on certain individuals or groups of people.

ACJPS would also like to call upon the United Nation African Union Peace Mission in Darfur to support the efforts of the Federal Sudanese Minster of Health by surrendering sites that are no longer in use for usage by the health ministry.

We urge all the rebel groups to allow the Ministry of Health to access areas under their control (Darfur regions, Blue Nile and south Kordofan)  so they can provide health services to various communities.

Contact:
Mossaad Mohamed Ali, Executive Director, African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies . (English, Arabic, Swedish): +46727712782

This call to action was first published by the African Centre for Peace Studies