Fighting COVID-19 in camps for refugees and internally displaced persons in East Darfur

Awareness raising, water sanitation and the distribution of family hygiene kits are some of the critical COVID-19 interventions the Ministry of health, UNICEF and partners are providing to some of the most vulnerable communities in Sudan.

Iman Mustafa
02 June 2020

As COVID-19 spreads throughout Sudan and the numbers of infected cases continue to rise, people are being advised to adhere to the Ministry of Health’s advice to stay home and avoid crowded places. But for many vulnerable communities, especially internally displaced persons and refugees, living in crowded camps is a reality they can’t escape.

Sudan hosts more than one million refugees and 1.87 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), many of whom live in crowded camps in the Darfur states. The overcrowded camps have limited resources, including water, sanitation and hygiene, which makes it challenging to adhere to COVID-19 prevention measures such as physical distancing and frequent hand-washing.  

In East Darfur, UNICEF, State Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Welfare with partners, are supporting the internal displaced community who are at the heightened risk of coronavirus pandemic spread.

Awareness Session Hygiene
A family from East Darfur's IDP camp attends an awareness session on the prevention of COVID-19.

Mobilizing communities through door–to–door and media messages 

UNICEF continues working with partners to intensify risk communication and social mobilization activities, trained hygiene educators go to the villages to spread the word through door to door, radio jingles across the state have already reached 200,000 people with key messages on COVID 19.

The social mobilization teams discovered that most people they encountered had no prior knowledge of COVID-19 transmission or treatment.  

Crowd control

Hand-washing stations have been installed at water and food distribution points and physical distancing measures are being strictly adhered to.

Basic water and sanitation

The availability of clean water has changed the internal displaced camps in unexpected way, life is much better now, without continuous access to sufficient and affordable water, measures to prevent COVID 19 can be difficult to achieve. Regular chlorination of the water supply, along with maintenance and operational support, has been provided to guarantee a continuous and safe water supply in the camps. This critical intervention makes it easier for the residents to wash their hands regularly with soap and protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19.   

COVID-19 prevention supplies

Since the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, UNICEF remains focused on delivering critical lifesaving water, sanitation and hygiene supplies to the high risks’ areas in the camps and nearby villages, more than 4,000 household have been reached.

Menstrual and family hygiene kit distribution

With COVID-19 safety measures and physical distance observed, menstrual hygiene kits were distributed at El-Neem IDP Camp. Men and women there were also trained on reproductive health and healthy hygiene practices.  

Young girl recieves Menstural Hygiene Kit
A young girl from El Neem IDP camp receives a hygiene kit.

With thanks to our partners the Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF), the Governments of Canada, Germany, Sweden, United States, the European Union, and the donors contributing to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for supporting UNICEF Sudan’s COVID-19 response.