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EU donates € 4 million for COVID-19 fight in South Sudan

November 11, 2020 (JUBA) - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a EUR 4 million donation from the European Union (EU) for purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure continuity of humanitarian operations in South Sudan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health worker disinfencts Juba airport from coronavirus on 31 January 2020 (AFP photo)

“Humanitarian workers in South Sudan will now be better protected from the virus and will be better equipped to fulfil their life-saving mission,” the EU ambassador, Christian Bader noted in a statement.

“Health and humanitarian workers are a precious lifeline for all people of South Sudan,” he added.

Experts say South Sudan’s healthcare infrastructure is extremely limited and the consequence of an upsurge in COVID infections could have a devastating impact on vulnerable people, especially coming on top of the already heavy impact of accumulated other shocks such as floods, economic crises and increased localized conflicts.

“This donation comes at a critical time. The European Union is supporting our ability to save lives in an ever-evolving situation, keeping communities and aid workers safe in the process. We are very grateful for this support,” said Matthew Hollingworth, WFP Country Director for South Sudan.

The European Union is a long-standing WFP partner, supporting its emergency and development work in South Sudan. It has contributed EUR 152 million to WFP’s operations in the country over the past five years.

Over 65 metric tons of PPE, such as face shields, goggles, gowns and face masks, were reportedly transported to South Sudan by WFP’s free-to-user cargo services as part of the global response to the pandemic.

Giving humanitarian workers adequate access to protective equipment is key to containing the spread of the virus and ensuring that the most vulnerable receive the support they need, WFP noted.

In South Sudan, PPE requests are managed by WFP and distribution will be prioritised across the country by an inter-agency team led by the World Health Organization (WHO).

South Sudan has seen a rapid increase in the number of the positive cases since the outbreak was first reported in the country in April, 2020.