UNAMID COVID-19 MEDIA UPDATE
4 June 2020
UNAMID COVID-19 MEDIA UPDATE
In line with the World Health Organization’s guidelines, UNAMID has taken series of measures to prevent and mitigate against COVID-19. As part of these measures, UNAMID recently placed fifty-two (52) of its personnel in quarantine at the Mission’s Logistics Base in El Fasher, North Darfur. This was necessitated by the emergence of suspected symptoms in six (6) UNAMID personnel, three of whom have now tested positive to COVID-19 and are being treated at an isolation centre at the Logistics Base in El Fasher. Out of the 52 quarantined personnel, forty-nine (49) are in self-quarantine for a period of 14 days, either as a result of direct contact with the three infected staff or in preparation for an anticipated international travel to their respective countries.
UNAMID has taken further steps to enhance its COVID-19 mitigation measures in its area of operation. The Mission’s Crisis Management Working Group meets regularly to assess and evaluate preventive measures as well as take necessary action to address potential risks to the staff and the community. Since 16 March 2020, all UNAMID staff who had returned from overseas travel had to observe mandatory quarantine within the Mission’s premises. UNAMID has also adopted, in coordination with State authorities, lockdown and social distancing measures in the Mission’s premises, which include closure of restaurants, public meetings, activities and functions, as well as interactions with communities and displaced persons’ camps.
UNAMID Support to Staff:
Recognizing the importance of timely and effective communication with staff, UNAMID has regularly provided information through broadcast, human resources guidelines, and medical advisory on various questions and queries regarding COVID-19, including the safety and welfare of staff in this difficult period. This information flow continues to be enhanced by periodic townhall meetings organized by the Head of Mission to boost morale, update and assure staff of UNAMID commitment, and ongoing initiatives to ensure the fullest protection and wellbeing of the staff. Two major initiatives are worth highlighting.
First, UNAMID continues to take note of the social and emotional challenges faced by staff due to prolonged restrictions of air travel. Following consultations, UNAMID initiated a facility for international personnel with an existing medical condition, to be repatriated voluntarily from the Mission on a temporary basis. Under this arrangement, two flights to Nairobi and Addis Ababa have so far been successfully facilitated with the grateful cooperation and coordination with the Government of Sudan. Logistical arrangements and administrative procedures for additional flights are being completed and shall be available soon.
Second, as part of UNAMID business continuity plan, the Mission has adopted flexible working arrangements in line with the UN resilience and emergency preparedness policies. The arrangement encourages supervisors and program managers to scale up electronic means of program delivery in accordance with the Secretary General’s vision of an effective, yet people-centered UN. The Mission has also allowed non-critical staff to telecommute using email, telephone and internet-based platforms to perform functions remotely. These measures are aimed at ensuring that the welfare of staff is prioritized, while also minimizing undue disruption to critical elements of mandate delivery, especially in this crucial period in Sudan’s transition.
UNAMID support to the Government on COVID-19:
The UN, through various messages and call for action by the Secretary General, has reiterated the compelling need for substantial support to national governments. In this regard, UNAMID has mobilized resources to support the Government of Sudan to prevent and respond to COVID-19. Upon request by Federal and Darfur State authorities, UNAMID gifted a wide range of personal protective items (gowns, goggles, face shields, N95 masks, aprons etc) and equipment, including generators, water storage containers, refrigerators, vehicles, spraying machines, beds and mattresses, office furniture and medical accessories (infusion pumps, digital thermometers, blood gas analyzer, hot air oven). The gifting was meant to strengthen State responses against COVID-19 as well as equip emergency and isolation centers in Darfur. In addition, UNAMID regularly provides access to its air assets to allow the Government to speedily transport vital equipment and test samples from Darfur to Khartoum.
In Darfur, UNAMID has, in addition to its mandate implementation functions, provided substantial COVID-19 mitigation support to State authorities and local communities, including displaced persons’ camps. Portable water containers, hand soap and sanitizers, dignity and hygiene kits were among items gifted to health authorities and distributed to displaced persons’ camps. The gifting was often complemented with outreach and community sensitization, including production and dissemination of education materials. In this regard, partnership with local radio stations has helped to reach a wider audience across Darfur. Engagements with various Walis also continues, through the Mission leadership, to especially ensure effective coordination and assurance of support from the Mission.
Further support has been jointly agreed by UNAMID and the UN Country Team to utilize $1.8 million from the State Liaison Functions (SLF) to enhance the capacity of national entities and provide essential equipment and resources to especially strengthen State mitigation actions in Darfur. The support will help minimize COVID-19 infection and mortality, fund the establishment of isolation centers, provide personal protective equipment, enhance capacities of local health and community systems as well as strengthen the detection, referral and testing of suspected cases.
Moreover, in partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNAMID co-established a “COVID Rights Watch” initiative, which is a platform to monitor the impact of mitigation measures on protection obligations and an integrated tool to highlight concerns over the plight of vulnerable groups and possible undue subversion of rights and rule of law processes. The Mission has also provided advisory support to federal authorities regarding the release of certain categories of prisoners to decongest detention facilities and reduce the risk of infections among inmates and personnel. Ongoing support also includes assisting the monitoring of the implementation of the Chief Justice’s directives to courts for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.
UNAMID remains committed and stands ready to provide support to the Government of Sudan, to the extent possible and contingent on available resources, to ensure that all efforts are directed toward strengthening local mechanisms and health infrastructure to mitigate COVID-19.
Mission information Notes on COVID-19 released: -