Amid imbalanced and fragile economic conditions and decreases in income, more than 70% of families living in the Republic of Sudan will lose their income as a result of the closures and restrictions associated with the Coronavirus pandemic, which threatens to exacerbate the poverty in the country.
According to the World Health Organization, these conditions are associated with the reality that that Sudan is in a “dangerous” situation within the context of the Coronavirus. This is due to its incapability to respond to any widespread “potential” outbreak of the disease, in addition to a health system that has been limited for decades. At a time when Sudan lacks professional medical staff and suffers from poor infrastructure and a shortage in equipment and pharmaceutical supplies, its health system suffers from structural weakness, thus hindering any quick response to the potential implications of the Coronavirus, and undermining any efforts to prevent it from spreading.
In this brief, the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) documents the measures taken by the Republic of Sudan to confront the Coronavirus pandemic in order to address the needs of those who are the most impacted; namely refugees, daily workers, women and children, and the elderly.. Here, ARDD urges Arab governments to implement emergency response plans to protect their people against the ramifications of this virus and highlights the importance of assessing the responses of Arab countries and their civil, human rights, humanitarian and labor organizations and youth initiatives towards the most impacted groups by the crisis, in an effort to explore the reality of social protection in the Arab World and the efforts to fight poverty. It seeks to review the measures taken by the Republic of Sudan
The Coronavirus pandemic reached Sudan on March 13, more specifically in the city of Khartoum. Thus far, Sudan has recorded a total of 66 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, including 10 deaths and 3 recoveries as of April 17. It is predicted that the Coronavirus will have an impact on food security and nutrition in Sudan by affecting the pillars of food security, especially in light of the virus-related measures imposed on some grain-exporting countries.
Like other countries, the Republic of Sudan has taken a series of decisions to prevent the spread of the virus, including “stopping all public, scientific and voluntary conferences for both the public and private sectors,” in addition to “conducting all sports events without audience until further notice and arranging for the return of Sudanese nationals from abroad”.
However, these decisions did not include clear programs to protect vulnerable groups, in a time when around 9.3 million persons across Sudan require humanitarian, social, health and food support. Therefore, UNDP has advised the Sudanese government from pursuing an expansionary financial policy by increasing government spending and reducing the cost of borrowing, to confront the negative economic impact of the spread of Coronavirus. This is in addition to expanding safety networks and direct cash assistance to citizens who are the most affected by poverty.
The support provided by the Sudanese government, especially for non-organised groups, was limited to certain sectors, including tea and food venders. For example, the government is paying SDG 6,000 (one dollar equals 55.3 Sudanese pounds) per month to 36 thousand women. As hundreds of women work in the evening in public places.
In order to prevent the spread of the virus, and after Sudan witnessed several rebellions in prisons over the spread of Coronavirus, Sudanese authorities have released more than 4 thousand prisoners. These rebellions were also met with calls of support from humanitarian organizations, activists and political and media entities.
In order to protect vulnerable groups within the Coronavirus crisis, the Sudanese Union of Chambers of Commerce has launched an awareness campaign for the elderly in senior homes, children without parental care living in orphanages, cancer patients, and for the deaf and visually impaired.
As for refugees and internally displaced persons in Sudan, there are many who are living in overpopulated camps with insufficient health infrastructure or water, sanitation and hygiene utilities. Evidently, this could be catastrophic for those refugees in of the case of the spread and expansion of the Coronavirus.
Meanwhile, fears from the dangers threatening street children also increase with the spread of the Coronavirus. Street children are estimated at 15 thousand, including 5 thousand living in the streets of the Sudanese Capital, Khartoum. This comes amid warnings that these children might turn into Coronavirus “incubators” due to the poor health conditions that they in live every day.
Voluntary youth initiatives have been active in Sudan to limit the spread of the Coronavirus and help the country contain it. For example, through the joint efforts of the initiative of the “Central Committee of Sudanese Pharmacists” and the “Resistance Committees,” youth in the neighborhoods have played an important role in fighting the greediness of merchants, locally manufacturing sanitizers in factories and homes and distributing them to the Sudanese people. Further, several groups and civil society and human rights organizations have volunteered to work with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Sudan Medical Union.