Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to Civil Unrest and the COVID-19 Pandemic in South Sudan

Press ReleaseEpiscopal Relief & Development Responds to Civil Unrest and the COVID-19 Pandemic in South Sudan

Press Release

April 28, 2022

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the South Sudanese Development and Relief Agency (SSUDRA) of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan as it responds to recent civil unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic. In collaboration with the Diocese of Salisbury and Christian Aid, SSUDRA is providing assistance to families in northwest South Sudan who have been impacted by the violence. The Church is also implementing COVID-19 educational campaigns in the central part of the country.

In early January 2022, the village of Yith Pabol was invaded by Sudanese extremists, leaving much destruction in their wake. Houses, other buildings and crops were destroyed. Almost 2,400 families were displaced. Respiratory infections and other diseases are spreading rapidly due to overcrowding and lack of access to healthcare or clean water. People have lost their crops and livestock, making it challenging to find adequate food sources.

SSUDRA is providing cash assistance to 840 families who have been displaced. Volunteers will distribute the aid while taking appropriate measures to ensure the security and safety of all involved.

“With financial assistance, people are able to buy what they need most, rather than what others think they need,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Senior Program Officer, Episcopal Relief & Development. “Direct cash support will also benefit the local economy and is the most cost-effective way to distribute aid, as storage and transportation costs are reduced.”

Episcopal Relief & Development has a long-standing relationship with the Episcopal Church of South Sudan. Disaster management teams, trained by Episcopal Relief & Development, have led emergency responses to crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic. In the fall of 2021, the organizations launched an educational campaign in the Diocese of Juba to dispel misinformation about the coronavirus and to enhance public awareness about preventive measures. SSUDRA staff and volunteers distributed personal protective equipment such as masks and sanitizers to help reduce the spread of the virus in public places such as churches, mosques, offices and markets.

COVID-19 cases and deaths are still low today, particularly in Western Equatoria, but this is likely a misleading number due to a lack of testing and contact tracing. Many people in rural villages don’t have access to accurate information about the virus and how it is spread. SSUDRA, in collaboration with the local government and Episcopal Relief & Development, is planning a two-day workshop for 750 diverse volunteers to address these issues. The workshop will include information about the virus and how to reduce its spread and strategies for how the volunteers can bring this information back to their communities. Additionally, the diocese is implementing a campaign that will take advantage of mass media such as radio to reach 50,000 people with COVID-19 educational messaging.

Episcopal Relief & Development’s emergency COVID-19 response is funded by a generous grant from Trinity Church Wall Street and other donors. Learn more about the organization’s COVID-19 programs here.

For more than 80 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for close to 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.

Photo courtesy of SSUDRA