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UNHCR warns of looming humanitarian crisis in South Sudan amid COVID-19 pandemic

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The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, has warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in South Sudan amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to CGTN website, the agency said on Wednesday that the outbreak of the disease could stretch the country’s already strained situation.

“After last year’s floods and the recent locust swarm, people are struggling. Together with the threat of COVID-19, this is a perfect storm that may lead to potentially terrible consequences for millions of people living in already precarious situations, if the virus rapidly spreads,” said Raouf Mazou, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations.

South Sudan has endured years of conflict that killed hundreds of thousands and forced millions to flee their homes.

The UNHCR estimates that the country has some 1.7 million internally displaced people.

Currently, South Sudan is one of 52 African countries that have reported COVID-19 cases, having registered 34 infections.

The UNHCR says it has partnered with South Sudan health authorities to put in place preventive and treatment measures to tackle the spread of the disease.

The agency however warns that the economic impact of the pandemic will leave many families struggling to survive, having already seen their sources of livelihood diminish due to conflict, floods and a locust invasion that swept through the country and damaged crop fields.

The UNHCR reiterates calls by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire. It called upon South Sudan’s factions to ensure the progress made in the 2018 peace deal does not stall.

The agency has appealed for funds to meet the humanitarian needs of people inside South Sudan, saying it has only received 11 percent of its US$179 million needed

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