Wash stations will continue to be present at the entrance to the NP compound as well as activities we facilitate. Pictured: COVID-19 awareness session in Lankien, Jonglei State
The first COVID-19 case in South Sudan was confirmed on April 5, 2020 - and we had been preparing our response ahead of time. Although many organizations have had to leave South Sudan, we maintain 90% of our staff, which means we can continue our operations and protecting civilians despite difficult conditions. And, we have been working to assist health and water and sanitation organizations to incorporate civilian protection into their regular work. This critical response to COVID-19 is possible because of your continued support.
For the past decade, you have supported our protection officers living in the same communities they serve. Because of these close ties, our staff are trusted messengers, and we are able to control rumors as a way of preventing tension, violence, retaliation, displacement, and panic related to COVID-19. And, we are continuing to respond to gender-based violence (including domestic violence) and conducting patrols in areas where civilians could be attacked if there are cases of COVID-19. We have also been in contact with partner organizations to accompany health workers and provide a protective presence in places like hospitals and clinics.
You have supported the training of Women Protection Teams and Youth Protection Teams. And now, we are working with local groups to make sure they have the information and tools they need to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Two members of the Women Peacekeeper Teams are now serving on a Covid Prevention Task Force, providing leadership to the national response. They are identifying where wash stations are needed and dispelling deadly rumors. They are also working with the government to reduce the anti-foreigner sentiment and violence that is brewing because of myths.
We are continuing to meet with Women Protection Teams, Youth Protection Teams, and authorities in accordance with WHO guidelines so that each community understands why some activities have been altered, while ensuring continued presence and visibility to maintain and enhance trust building. Thank you for making an impact in South Sudan, especially during the current health crisis.