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CEPO'S 2nd Observatory Report on COVID-19.

 

OBSERVATORY REPORT ON COVID-19 PANDEMIC.

STATE FUNDING COMBATING COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS MATTER OF URGENCY 

April, 2020

Abstract: This report presents findings of CEPO’s quick survey on states capacities in responding to the threat of COVID-19 pandemic. The methodology of the survey was via phone calls to state authorities and key informants.

Generally, the states have less capacity and in adequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic threat. The survey realized that the 10 states and the 3 political administrative units are not well prepared to handle the threat of COVID-19 pandemic. The only engagement the states and the political administrative units are now dealing with enforcement of social distancing, stoppage of movement, washing of hands and increase public awareness raising.

The states and political capacities for handling the efforts on preventing the COVID-19 pandemic in human rights based approach is very low. The states and the political administrative units have below expectations capacities on matters of testing, patient quarantine, person’s contacts tracking and lockage of borders entry points. The national taskforce on COVID-19 pandemic urgently should allocate funds to the states and political administrative units on financing actions on prevention of COVID-19 pandemic.

 It will be great if the donation from IGAD is totally distributed to the states and the political administrative units.The states and political administrative units currently alongside the 3 positive cases the country confirmed have zero percentages budget for financing any need for urgent response to the threat of COVID-19 pandemic. Transparency and sense of equality in funds allocation on COVID-19 pandemic response is highly required from the national taskforce on prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic. States and political administrative units at international border posts require urgent funding on strengthening capacities on blockage of border entry posts. Any breakout of COVID-19 pandemic at any state or political administrative unit will be a disaster for the population if financing of the states and political administrative units are not prioritized now.

  1. PRINCIPLE FINDINGS.
  1. The 10 states and the 3 political administrative units are struggling in raising public awareness on COVID-19 pandemic due to limited financial capacity.
  2. The 10 states and 3 political administrative units financially are weak in any urgent emergency response to any positive case of COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. The required human resources for handling effective response of the treat of COVID-19 pandemic at state and political administrative units is very low.
  4. The required basic health facility or preparation of the present health facility to dealing with the threat of COVID-19 pandemic is inadequate.
  5. Serious gaps were observed on the state and political administrative unit’s capacities in enforcing the preventive measures of COVID-19 pandemic.
  6. There is possibility of high occurrence on attacks and stigmatization due to COVID-19 at states. 
  1. SUMMARY OF THE RESOLUTIONS. 
  1. Resolution 1: The national high level taskforces should prioritize the contribution made by IGAD ( $100,000)  for funding states and political administrative units urgently.
  2. Resolution 2: The international borders entry posts should be immediately close and monitored by security personnel without any compromise or favor per the president’s order
  3. Resolution 3: Urgent human resources capacity building of the states and political administrative units is required for effective response on the threat posed by COVID-19 pandemic
  4. Resolution 4: State and Political Administrative Units’ leadership should take pro-active role in talking against xenophobic attacks, stigmatization and uphold human rights and rule of law principles while combating COVID-19 pandemic.
  5. Resolution 5: State and political administrative units’ authorities should take control of rumors and misinformation serious.            
  6. Resolution 6: The states namely Warrap, Lakes and Jongeli should immediate intervene in preventing the inter-communal violence cycle.
  7. Resolution 7: States that hosted internal displaced persons should have specific plans for handling the IDPs while responding to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.            
  1. ISSUES OF URGENT ATTENTION

3.1. Availability of funds to the states and political administrative units

The survey realized that the current financial capacities of the state and political administrative units is absolutely weak and below basic strengthen for facilitating any action on prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic. States and political administrative unit have no budgets for facilitating responses on COVID-19 pandemic.

The available funds at hand is very little and inadequate to allow the states and political administrative units to undertake genuine action on prevention of COVID-19 pandemic. Since the  positive case was identified through a patient who travelled to Torit of Eastern Equatoria from Juba, then the worry is, how prepared are the authorities in Eastern Equatoria state in terms of funds and human resources.

The reality is Eastern Equatoria state has inadequate funds to take any action for tracking persons who came to contact with the identified positive case in Torit. What threat is this for the population of Torit?

The immediate answer for this question is that, the national taskforce should transfer urgent funds to the authorities of Torit to undertake immediate action of tracking the persons who came into contacts with the patien, however, the rest of the other states and political administrative units requires funds from national government.

Resolution 1: The national high level taskforces should prioritize the contribution made by IGAD (     $100,000) for funding states and political administrative units now.

  1. Blockage of international border entry posts

The international border posts in Morobo, Yei, Yambio, Tombura, Nimule, Nadpal, Aweil, Renk, Pagak, Boma, Narus, Panriang, Abyei, Raja, Kajo-keji, Pochalla and Akobo should immediately be closed and all other illegal entry points into the country. Such border posts posed real risk of transfer of the cases into the country with international border posts are vulnerable in terms of health facility for critical response to the threat of COVID-19 pandemic. The populations located at those mentioned border posts should be properly sensitize and engage on voluntary testing.

Resolution 2: The international borders entry posts should be immediately closed and close monitored by security personnel without any compromise.

  1. Building of Human Resources with adequate equipment

The present medical human resources at state level is inadequate if positive cases of COVID-19 pandemic are identified at state and political administrative units. The present size of the medical staff at states and political administrative units is inadequate and not well built for proper handling of the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Training of human resources and equipping the states and political administrative units with the required health facilities and equipment is essential for effective response to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resolution 3: Urgent capacity building of the states and political administrative unity human resources is required for effective response on the threat posed by COVID-19 pandemic 

  1. Preventing xenophobic attacks and stigmatization  

Incidences of xenophobic attacks have started rising up. Already over 10 incidences against UN agencies and international non-government organizations staff were registered. Two incidences of physical assault in Yambio and Bor, one incidence of physical assault in Munduri, one physical assault in Torit and two death threat directed to civil society activists in Rumbek and Makala. On online social media platforms mainly via facebook over 2,400 death threats posted by young age South Sudanese towards staff of UN agencies and foreigners working with International non-governmental organizations across the country were observed. On the other hand, through online media publications, the readers’ commentary on published articles on the confirmed positive COVID-19 cases registered over 300 cases of posing death threat towards UN agencies staff and foreigners entering South Sudan were registered too.  Stigmatization of COVID-19 pandemic is growing high at the states level. This observed by the aggressive behaviors of some of the law enforcement personnel towards the staff of UN agencies and International Non-governmental organizations. 

Resolution 4: State and Political Administrative Units’ leadership should take pro-active role in talking against xenophobic attacks, stigmatization and uphold human rights and rule of law principles while combating COVID-19 pandemic

  1. Rumor mongering and Misinformation

Rumor mongering and misinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic at the states and political administrative unit levels is on raise. In some states already rumors are taken serious by some members of law enforcement agencies. For instance, in one state a rumor and misinformation was generated that any UN staff have arrived to the staff after the announcement of COVID-19 pandemic is a positive case because UN have a secret policy for population reduction. This rumor and misinformation have created harm on UN staff and international non-government staff. With the low and inadequate dissemination of public information on COVID-19 pandemic at states level, issues of rumors and misinformation will caused harm

Resolution 5: State and political administrative units’ authorities should take control of rumors and misinformation serious            

  1. Inter-communal violence with the threat of COVID-19 pandemic

Some of the states and political administrative unit across south Sudan are facing serious occurrence of inter-communal violence beside the threat been posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The inter-communal violence can deny the communities the opportunity of sensitization on the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The triangle of Warrap-Lakes-Jongeli states is hard to disseminate public awareness on COVID-19 pandemic.

Resolution 6: The states namely Warrap, Lakes and Jongeli should immediate intervene in preventing the inter-communal violence.   

  1. Protection of Internal Displaced Persons Right (voluntary and dignified return) 

States with internal displaced persons in camps settlement should take extra role on deciding on the fate of the internal displaced persons verses prevention of COVID-19 pandemic. The internal displaced person’s populations across the country are panicking and worry that they will be forcefully forced to reallocate and return to their areas of origin or choice as results of implementing preventive measures on COVID-19 pandemic. This is real challenge before state authorities who are hosting internal displaced persons in camps.

The disturbing issues are;

  1. Some of the internal displaced persons have not yet made decision for return being it to the area of origin or choice
  2. Some of the Internal Displaced person’s areas of return require more assurance of safety and security before return. 
  3. Some of the internal displaced persons means of livelihood is totally based on the food distribution in the camp. Now in any reallocation of the IDPs, then the question is where will the IDPs go and pick up new means of livelihood? This is a real challenge before them (IDPs)

Resolution 7: States that hosted internal displaced persons should have specific plans for handling the IDPs with full respect of human rights and rule of law principles while responding to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. CEPO’S ROLE              

CEPO will be pro-actively engaging on defying hate, control of rumors, misinformation, stigmatization and tracking xenophobic attacks in collaboration with civic actors at state level. Civil Society COVID-19 observatory will be rollout in the states as a strategy of empowering the civil society to foster accurate public information dissemination and engaging on defying hate, controlling rumors, misinformation, and stigmatization and tracking incidences of xenophobic attacks. Civil Society COVID-19 observatory will further engaged on influencing state government for effective response for handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

CEPO is rolling out exercise of human rights based approach including tracking of incidences of threats and cases of dismissal of whistleblowers in public institutions, already CEPO have received an alert that some public institutions both government and non-governmental are threatening staff who voluntarily took up an act of being whistleblowers on suggested cases for official investigation or testing for COVID-19 pandemic. CEPO’s next report will release some public information on this subject matter.   

  1. Recommendations
  1. The states and political administrative units authorities should act on this report identified resolutions immediately without any delay.
  2. The states and political administrative units should embrace transparency and genuineness in dealing with COVID-19 pandemic
  3. The states and political administrative units should established effective approach for timely exchange of information around COVID-19 pandemic on every matter.
  4. The states and political administrative units should effectively observe human rights and rule of law principles in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
    1. Conclusion

Adequate funding to the states and political administrative units will determine their pro-activeness for timely engagement on responding to COVID-19 pandemic. The national high level taskforce should ensure that states and political administrative unit are adequately and timely funded for take urgent action on preventing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

It is essential for the states and the political administrative units to ensure that enforcement of the declared preventive measures on COVID-19 pandemic are done in total respect of human rights and rule of law principles. The states and political administrative units should embrace high level transparency and genuineness in their working on preventing COVID-19 pandemic. Issues associated with the affairs of the internal displaced persons should be taken serious by the states that are hosting internal displaced persons (IDPs). CEPO is urging entities of good will to support civil society engagement in championing human rights based approach in combating COVID-19 pandemic across the country.