The Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread across the world, and the South Sudan region has been hit particularly hard by the disease. Out of the six UN-protected displacement camps (known as Protection of Civilians sites), two have seen outbreaks of the coronavirus, prompting UN officials to encourage camp residents to return to their homes.
However, these displaced refugees, totaling at approximately 190,000, do not feel safe returning to their war-torn homes due to the threat of violence. In the last month alone, more than 200 people were violently killed in clashes in eastern Jonglei.
Displacement camp residents are now stuck in an unusual struggle: if they stay at the camps, not only do they risk being exposed to the virus, but an attitude of foreign hostility has also gripped the camp and caused many people to look down on the South Sudanese and blame them for the outbreak (even though the first cases were among UN international staff). On the other hand, they can’t return home for fear of violence from raiders, bandits, and other warring forces.
For now, it seems that the UN is doing what it can to mitigate the risk of Covid spread as well as violence in the displacement camps, but only time will tell if their measures prove effective.
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