UN peacekeepers in Malakal combine veterinary camp with COVID-19 awareness session
Indian peacekeepers based in Malakal and serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan have organized a free veterinary and vaccination camp to maintain the health of thousands of vital cattle in the area. They also held a session on how to keep local communities safe from the COVID-19 virus, as part of the build-up to this year’s International Day of UN Peacekeepers (29 May).
“When women become aware, they are always quick to respond and inform others about how they can protect themselves and others. We will tell our men that the Coronavirus is real and will come, and that we need to take all precautionary recommendations seriously,” says Nyaun Armoi Kwany, a mother in Malakal who sported a facial mask for the first time in her life as she attended the informative event.
While no infections have been recorded in Upper Nile State, a significant part of the population, including more than 27,000 internally displaced people sheltering at the peacekeeping mission’s protection site in Malakal, are at more risk than others due to crowded living conditions where physical distancing is easier said than practiced. The proximity of neighbouring Sudan is of particular concern.
“Those who will cause alarm are South Sudanese citizens returning from Sudan without having been tested at the border. They are coming home and we can’t tell them they can’t come, but they should have been screened for the virus,” says Diew Nyok Akong Deng, noting that new returnees are arriving on a daily basis.
Colonel Sachin Shaivastara, deputy commander of the Indian contingent based in Malakal, recalls that his men and women have consistently taken initiatives to contribute to the welfare and vocational skills of the host community. that says that the Indian veterinary doctors have carried out many trainings for the community in the state.
“Our veterinary camp and Corona awareness activities are in line with the commemoration of 75 years of UN peacekeeping,” the Colonel says, reiterating that the support of UNMISS is unwavering.
Led by the state’s COVID-19 task force and guided by the expertise of the World Health Organization, UNMISS works together with key stakeholders across the country to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading further and to mitigate the far-reaching effects of the pandemic in the world’s youngest nation.
South Sudan was one of the last countries in Africa to register the presence of COVID-19 in its territory, but the number of confirmed infections is steadily rising. As of Monday 18 May, 347 cases had been recorded nationwide, with six people believed to have died in the aftermath of the virus. A relative lack of testing machines and protective equipment makes the fight against the disease an even more daunting task.