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South Sudan: COVID-19 task force in Wau encourages internally displaced people to leave the protection site

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CNBCAFRICA 20 AFR 2020

The high-level COVID-19 task force in Western Bahr el Ghazal has met with representatives of the internally displaced people staying at the Wau protection of civilians site of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to discuss way of preventing the spread of the virus.

A key conclusion is that further decongestion of the densely populated site will greatly contribute to making social distancing, a crucial precautionary measure, feasible.

‘’I left (the protection site) immediately after the announcement of the first case of corona virus in South Sudan,’’ says Madelina Joseph, a 48-year-old mother of three. ‘’I know that the crowded conditions there mean that many people could become infected very quickly if the virus enters the area.”

Lots of other internally displaced people have since followed Ms. Joseph’s example, helped by the humanitarian organizations that have provided voluntary leavers with starting kits: seeds, tools and a food ration sufficient for a period of two months. Assistance has also been given to people who so far have chosen to stay in the protection site, thus making it easier for them to avoid social gatherings.

While some internally displaced people have left the protection site, others have arrived, seeking shelter from intercommunal violence in Tonj.

Concerns over the security situation have swayed some of the residents at the site to remain put despite wanting to leave. Julieta Edward, is one of them.

‘’How can we go home when some of our friends (who leave) have had their food rations stolen from them? The security situation is still not stable in some neighbourhoods of Wau and in places like Mapel and Kuejena,” she told the visiting high-level task force.

To encourage more displaced people to return to their homes, Ms. Edward called on security forces to disarm civilians and to increase their presence in vulnerable areas.

As of 16 April, 12,483 persons are still residing at the protection site adjacent to the peacekeeping mission’s field office in Wau.

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