Coronavirus – South Sudan: UNHCR South Sudan commends Government’s effort to preserve access to asylum

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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 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. 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. 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.

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. UNHCR, in close collaboration with South Sudan’s Ministry of Interior through its Commission for Refugee Affairs (CRA), continues to monitor their situation and address their needs 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 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. As a precautionary measure and abiding by the South Sudan Ministry of Health and World Health Organization guidelines – which applies to all nationals and internationals coming into the country- the group has agreed to undergo and complete the 14-day mandatory quarantine in a safe location, a facility that has been identified by the authorities, with the support of UNHCR and its partners. UNHCR has continuos access to the population and will continue to monitor and respond to their needs.

“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.

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