COVID-19 SPECIAL: Burkina Faso, Chad, Sudan

Sudanese healthcare professionals wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to assist suspected COVID-19 patients Sudanese healthcare professionals wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to assist suspected COVID-19 patients © MUDAWI HASSAN/MSF

In Focus by Silvia Luminati; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

 1. Burkina Faso

Currently, Burkina Faso is the most coronavirus-affected country in West Africa, with over 500 confirmed cases. Experts fear that the epidemic can have tragic effects on the population as 24% of health centres are closed, which worsens the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Another factor which aggravates the risk of spreading COVID-19 is the scale of displacement in Burkina Faso, which  hosts nearly 800 000 displaced people. Babar Baloch, the spokesperson for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), expressed a particular concern over the situation of 25 000 Malian refugees who have been targeted by armed groups in the last months and are now considering returning home despite the pandemic: “They judged it was the lesser of two evils”, Mr. Baloch said.


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2. Chad

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, attacks carried out by the Boko Haram, a jihadist terrorist organization based in northeastern Nigeria, continue in the Lake Chad region. As a result, last week, more than 20 000 people were forced to flee from the Lake Chad islands. Weak security and restrictive measures imposed by the government to prevent the spread of the epidemic impact the displaced population, which is in urgent need of humanitarian support, in a most severe way. As the resources are limited, the possible progression of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country is likely to worsen the condition of 272 000 displaced people in the region . However, to date, only 33 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed by the authorities.


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3. Sudan

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), has joined the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for a global ceasefire, and announced a temporary discontinuation of all hostile activities until 30 May. According to the chairman of SPLM-N, Abdelaziz El Hilli, the cessation of hostilities “comes to give the ongoing peace talks an opportunity to succeed”. On the other hand, the Federal Ministry of Health warned that the epidemic could lead to the collapse of the national health system which suffers medical devices and health staff shortages. As a result, the inability of public infrastructure to treat a large number of patients could leave behind the most vulnerable, such as 3 million refugees and internally displaced persons. The country has so far reported 140 confirmed COVID-19 cases.


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