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South Sudan: Where is over $30M COVID-19 Funds?

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Weak institutions are in part a result of weak leadership, in anticipation for another fund, as the United States announced an additional funds to support South Sudan’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to ask the Kiir administration, where is the over $30 COVID-19 funds?

It has been nearly one and half months since South Sudan deserted the daily routine of updating the country and the rest of the world concerning the Covid-19 cases in the country.

South Sudan’s systemic corruption is its largest hindrance to peace and stability. A country mired in deeply-rooted ethnic conflict and lacking in resources requires resilient state institutions to survive. Unfortunately, South Sudan’s kleptocratic culture has done more to weaken the state than anything else.

Before and during the War for Independence, elites in the South believed they were vastly inferior to Northern elites in wealth and resources. They could not quickly ascertain their Northern counterparts’ status without resorting to corruption. It was the easiest method for acquiring wealth because of the stream of humanitarian aid flowing to South Sudan. Even before The War for Independence, officials in Sudan’s southern region staged “hunger camps” to attract humanitarian aid and subsequently stole it.

In June, the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved a UA 3 million ($4.16 million) grant to South Sudan to support the emergency response to COVID-19 and strengthen the country’s fragile health system. As of June 15, 2020, the country had reported 1,693 cases, 27 deaths and 49 recoveries.

There are ideological and ethnic divisions in South Sudan, but its greatest divider may be the acute socioeconomic inequality between government kleptocrats and millions of starving civilians. Corruption made officials exorbitantly rich at the expense of a starving, poverty-stricken populace. Corruption became so lucrative that it has infected every sector of the economy and every state institution.

In April, the World Bank provided the country with $7 Million to help fight the outbreak of Corona virus.There have been multiple donations of which the Ethiopian and Chinese government were key players including the provision of PPEs (Personal Protective Equipments).

A state cannot function when its money is stolen. Even a poor and hungry country can be stable enough to avoid full-scale civil war if resources and aid are used to improve the country as a whole.

By July, the all the amount summed to more than $30 Million was all used up with out a tangible thing being done. As a political activist has rightly submit, the over 30 million dollar was divided by the President and his deputies between May and June”.

There have been different chairpersons for the head of National Taskforce of Covid-19 which raised the question of how the funds were handled. “The health system in South Sudan is extremely fragile and when we see how robust health systems around the world are struggling fighting COVID-19, that makes us worry more for the people of South Sudan,” said the UNICEF South Sudan representative Mohamed Ag Ayoya. “We must do what we can to prevent and reduce the spread of the disease, and without the partnership with the World Bank this wouldn’t be possible.

”The official luxured in their comforts and by August, the President declared the willingness of his administration to ‘live with covid-19

“Coronavirus has come to stay with us” said the President two weeks ago during a lucheon in Hai Amarat where the state’s officials had a terrific dinner amid human suffering in the country.

Following a period of emptiness, with all funds divided among the presidency, the country revealed the emptiness of Central Bank, with its forex reserves being no more.

The Council on Foreign Affairs noted that, although Ethiopia is weak and poor, their resources are spent on public goods such as infrastructure and health services. That creates a more content populace and a more stable economy, which induces state stability. South Sudan does not spend its money on better infrastructure or public services, it spends it on its military and governing elite.

Having given up on the fight against Covid-19 with the Minister of Health, Elizabeth Acuei Yol going mute since June, the health state of South Sudan population is left vulnerable and questionable.

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