UNMISS starts month-long mobile campaign to help prevent coronavirus in Jonglei
Across South Sudan, national authorities, civil society and the United Nations have joined forces to sensitize local communities about preventative measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
In Jonglei and the greater Pibor area, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on 22 April 2020 launched a month-long mobile awareness raising campaign, with key messages on simple but effective steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The campaign is being broadcast through local radio stations in different languages. These are disseminated widely via speakers mounted on vehicles moving through different towns and villages.
“This virus has resulted in a worldwide pandemic and it does not differentiate between nationalities. We are all equally at risk. Therefore, we as the UN are taking steps to protect not just our own personnel but the entire South Sudanese population as well; a very important part of our mandate is, after all, protection of civilians,” said Deborah Schein, Head of Office, UNMISS Bor
For his part, Mabior Atem Mabior, head of the local government in Jonglei, who also lent his voice to the radio programme, cautioned people against hate speech and xenophobic statements. “Anybody amongst us could be a potential carrier; we are all equally at risk and must unite to stop the spread of coronavirus. We should, therefore, avoid hate speech and targeting individuals on social media since they are all friends of South Sudan,” Mr. Mabior stated.
“We, as the High-Level Task Force, have opened up appropriate services and hospitals for everyone. If you start experiencing flu-like symptoms, please isolate yourself at home and call 6666 for assistance,” added Samuel Majur, Chairperson, State-Level Taskforce, Bor.
South Sudan has initiated a partial lockdown as a preventive measure to protect citizens against the virus. A countrywide curfew is in place from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Borders, airports, schools, churches and mosques remain closed. A ban on social gatherings also remains in place. The country currently four confirmed cases of COVID-19.
There has been no recorded case in Bor so far. However, the economic impact of these measures have been keenly felt through soaring prices and lack of essential items in local markets. “The government should give us access to hard currency otherwise the market will collapse,” warns Mr. Mabior.
Till the virus continues to spread across the world, strictly enforced preventative measures, though, remain the order of the day. “The basic and most effective way to protect yourself is washing your hands with soap thoroughly as often as possible and maintaining a physical distance of at least two metres from others,” advises George Worri, State Coordinator, World Health Organisation, Bor.
UNMISS has imposed a travel freeze on all staff travelling into the country, ensured staff who arrived prior to the ban are self-quarantined for 14 days, introduced work-from-home measures to reduce numbers of staff in offices, and enforced physical distancing rules and frequent hand washing by all personnel.