Devastating South Sudan coronavirus deaths,'a tragedy that can be prevented', Security Council hears17 July, 2020
South Sudan is facing the twin threat of COVID-19 and an uptick in violence that risks unravelling a fragile ceasefire and derailing the peace process, the top UN official in the country says. Briefing the Security Council on Tuesday, David Shearer said that so far, nearly 2,000 cases of novel coronavirus - and 35 deaths - have been recorded in South Sudan.
But limited testing and social stigmatization is likely obscuring the true magnitude of the pandemic, said Mr. Shearer, who heads the UN Mission in the world’s youngest nation (UNMISS).
The result could be a “devastating” increase in deaths that would likely greater than the loss of life from COVID-19 itself.
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Systemic threat “COVID is going to hit hard, but not necessarily in the way that we think”, he told the Council via video-teleconference. In UNMISS “Yes, people will die from the virus, like everywhere else in the world. But the real threat to the people of South Sudan lies in the collapse of the already fragile health system”, he said.Going forward, Mr. Shearer – who presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on South Sudan – said that state governors should now be appointed to fill a power vacuum and tackle a four-fold increase in violent incidents over the past two years. Violence in
- Jonglei state
- Unity state
- Western Equatoria statesand sorounding areas
- Lakes state
- Warrap state and other states
Threat of ceasefire unravelling “Fighters in uniform have been spotted … suggesting that organized forces may be joining the conflict, which risks unravelling the ceasefire”, he said.