Juba, South Sudan
May 8, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — The UN Refugee Agency in South Sudan commends the Transitional Government of National Unity for continuing to welcome people seeking refuge from the Democratic Republic of Congo and says its stands in solidarity with the South Sudanese government.
“UNHCR commends the Transitional Government of National Unity for its continued generosity to allow people fleeing recent violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to seek refuge in South Sudan, despite the current movement restrictions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.” Reads part of the report.
According to UNHCR South Sudan, the government allows refugees from neighboring countries especially DRC to cross in the country despites COVID-19 border closure and other measures.
“This is the first reported official cross-border movement from a neighboring country since South Sudan’s borders were closed in late March 2020 in order to curb the spread of the new virus.” The report said;
“South Sudan’s actions are an example of how COVID-19 preventative measures can be managed while still allowing people fleeing in fear of their lives to seek asylum, observing international protection.” Said UNHCR official, Gift Friday Noah
According to the UNHCR reports, at least 250 people have crossed into South Sudan over the last week.
“Nearly 250 people from DRC have crossed into rural areas of the Western Equatoria State over the last week – many among them are vulnerable women and children.” The UNHCR reports tells Nyamilepedia;
The UNHCR works in close collaboration with South Sudan’s Ministry of Interior through its Commission for Refugee Affairs (CRA) to continue to monitor the situation and address the needs of the newly arrived refugees in coordination with partners.
“UNHCR and its partners, along with the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, and the CRA are on the ground to support the new arrivals with life-saving assistance; food, water, sanitation and healthcare services are provided and COVID19 preventive measures are implemented.” The UNHCR reports states;
“The new arrivals have been sensitized on the new coronavirus disease and the measures in place to tackle it, in compliance with South Sudan’s National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan.” The report continued;
“UNHCR praises the Transitional Government of National Unity for the inclusion of refugees, asylum seekers and other persons of concern in the National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan. We support the government and stand together in solidarity during these difficult times”, says Adan Ilmi, UNHCR Representative a.i. in South Sudan.
Insecurity in the neighbouring countries has pushed more than 300,000 refugees into South Sudan, which has adopted the Refugee Act in 2012 [link] and signed the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol in 2018 [link].
UNHCR supports refugees in 21 camps and settlements across the country and is heavily involved in aiding the nearly 1.7 IDPs and IDP returnees through the country’s protection and camp management clusters.
The COVD-19 outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January, 2020 and a pandemic on March 12, 2020.
During this unprecedented time, balancing the movement restrictions and the respect to fundamental refugee rights is critical. UNHCR continues to support the Transitional Government of National Unity of South Sudan to ensure that access to territory and asylum are preserved for forcibly displaced people.