UNMISS hands over vehicles to COVID-19 State Taskforce in Bentiu
As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has ceaselessly extended its support to the national-led COVID-19 response in the country. As part of its efforts, the mission has handed over two vehicles to state authorities in the Unity region of South Sudan to supplement the work of the State COVID-19 Task Force. These vehicles are intended to facilitate ease of movement for frontline health workers and also for transporting patients to health facilities.
“UNMISS is doing everything it can to support the South Sudanese government and the communities we are here to serve. Our goal is to work with state and national authorities as well as other members of the UN family here to ensure that effective and swift care can be provided to those who contract the virus. This is a serious disease which can affect any of us at any time. Therefore, we most definitely are all in this together,” stated Hiroko Hirahara, Head of Field Office, UNMISS Bentiu, at the handover.
Ms. Hirahara reiterated that, currently, it is not business as usual for the peacekeeping mission. “These are special times and we have a duty, both as the UN and as human beings, to go beyond our mandate and help each other. Every little step counts to keep ourselves and those around us safe. It is my hope that these two vehicles contribute to that end,” she added.
For their part, local authorities were appreciative of UNMISS. “This is a great gift and I urge the Ministry of Health to use these cars in service of our communities,” said local official Moses Dak William.
Dr. Duol Biem. Director-General, Ministry of Health, Unity region, joined Mr. William in commending the mission’s initiative. “This is not the first time that UNMISS has extended a valuable helping hand to us,” said Dr. Biem. “The mission is also renovating the isolation centre for COVID-19 patients; this work is due to be completed soon and we are thankful for these interventions,” he added, saying that as health officials they will be educating citizens on mitigation measures against the virus.
Gatkuoth Jal, a resident of Bentiu town, underscored the importance of sensitization for people living in the region. “I believe that these cars handed over by UNMISS will make it easier for state health professionals to raise awareness about coronavirus in remote areas and teach citizens how to protect themselves from becoming sick,” he averred.
Other UNMISS interventions across South Sudan include, but are not limited to, mobile awareness raising initiatives on World Health Organization-approved health measures, handing over of hygiene kits and personal protective equipment and distributing hundreds of thousands of flyers and information leaflets among host populations, including displaced people living in the mission’s protection sites.