UNHCR commends South Sudan as first refugees receive COVID-19 vaccination

The first refugee receives Covid-19 jab in South Sudan | Photo: UNHCR

Thessherald—Refugees in South Sudan are receiving COVID-19 jabs during the rollout of the country’s national vaccination campaign, joining Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda in including refugees in their COVID-19 vaccination plan in the East African Region. Today, 13 people, among them 10 refugees from the Gorom Refugee Settlement located some 20km outside of Juba and three members of the host community including one health worker visited the Buluk Police Hospital for their vaccine.

For vulnerable refugees, their inclusion in the national vaccination campaign could not have come soon enough, “I came to receive my first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, I feel very fine, there is no pain and the process is very simple,” shared Ojullu Ochan Ochan, a refugee from Ethiopia. “I encourage all refugees in South Sudan and the region including the host community to take the vaccine to protect themselves and their families” he added.

Health workers are among the group to receive the jab in line with the national vaccination plan of prioritizing frontline workers in the country. “I came today to take my COVID-19 vaccine in order to share my experience with others and bring home the message that I am doing very well and to encourage others to take the vaccine to protect themselves, their families and their communities,” explained Dut Yual Agoth, a volunteer health worker from the host community with UNHCR partner ACROSS.

Since the start of the pandemic, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in collaboration with its partners and the government, has scaled up its COVID-19 response activities to keep refugees, internally displaced people, returnees as well as the communities hosting them safe across South Sudan. Life-saving support such as boosting water and sanitation services, increasing access to healthcare including the renovation of health facilities and provision of ongoing regular services including nutrition programmes continued despite the pandemic.

The organization also provided three ambulances to state authorities, installed six COVID-19 testing machines in refugee settings in Maban, Jamjang, Makpandu, and in Yei, as well as airlifted various medical items including oxygen concentrators, portable ventilators, emergency supplies including soap. UNHCR also established two intensive care units in Maban and in Pariang, and COVID-19 isolation units in all refugee camps. Personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, gowns, and sanitizers continue to be supplied to health facilities that are serving the forcibly displaced families across the country.

The roll-out of the national vaccination campaign has also heralded good news for students. Schools have reopened following more than one year of closure. Since March of 2020, UNHCR and education partners have supported remote learning for refugee and host community students, however in-class attendance and the joy of studying alongside friends everyday has been greatly missed. To support the reopening of in-person learning this May, UNHCR also made improvements to water and sanitation facilities in primary and secondary schools.

“Today, I wish to commend South Sudan for the continued generosity to include refugees as well as internally displaced people in the national preparedness and response plans since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said UNHCR’s Representative, Arafat Jamal. “Safeguarding refugee health also protects the health of their host communities and wider society, and UNHCR is working with the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and partners to support the roll-out in all refugee hosting locations.”

UNHCR participates in the National COVID-19 Steering Committee, headed by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, and in its various technical working groups, headed by other partners in implementing the national COVID-19 preparedness and response plan including among forcibly displaced populations.

UNHCR reiterates that refugees, internally displaced and stateless people and their local host communities must be included on an equal footing with citizens in national responses to the pandemic, including public health access, vaccines, and social safety nets, and the South Sudan government has shown this.

Health Minister takes lead on COVID-19 jab, urges leaders to follow suit

The Minister of Health Elizabeth Achuei Yol receives her first dose of Covid-19 vaccine | Photo: File

The Minister of Health, Elizabeth Achuei Yol, has received her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and urged the country’s leaders to do the same. She’s the first person in the country to be vaccinated against the virus.

In the coming weeks and months, all frontline health workers in South Sudan will be offered the vaccine through a national vaccination campaign. Subsequently, people with co-morbidities and people above 65 years of age will also be offered the vaccine. 25 March 2021, South Sudan received 132,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX facility.

“The first phase of the vaccination is conducted in Central Equatoria State targeting health care workers as well as persons aged 65 years and older, given their increased risk of severe disease and death due to a potential COVID-19 infection”, said Minister of Health Hon Elizabeth Achuei. “The aim of the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine is to protect the prioritized groups against COVID-19”.

South Sudan aims at vaccinating 40 per cent of its population against COVID-19. The COVAX facility has committed to providing half of the required doses meaning 732,000 doses in total. Therefore, the vaccination must be done in phases as the vaccines arrive.

“This is a significant moment for the people of South Sudan. “said Patience Musanhu, Gavi Senior Country Manager for South Sudan. “By protecting the most vulnerable groups, we can save lives, take pressure off health systems and ease the economic burden brought on by the pandemic.”

A person being vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine requires two doses to ensure optimal immune response against the COVID-19 virus. The COVID-19 vaccination in South Sudan will be provided on a voluntary basis and free of charge. All people receiving the vaccine will be asked to consent prior to being vaccinated.

“The COVID-19 vaccination marks an important step towards control of COVID-19 in South Sudan, which pose a threat to our well-being”, said Dr Fabian Ndenzako, WHO Representative a.i. for South Sudan. “Safe, effective, and quality vaccines for COVID-19 are our best hope for bringing the pandemic under control, together with other public health interventions, such as physical distancing, washing hands and mask use”.

Over several months, COVAX partners have supported governments and partners, particularly in low-income countries including South Sudan, to prepare for the vaccination roll-out. This includes assisting with the development of national vaccination plans, supporting cold chain infrastructure, as well as stockpiling of half a billion syringes and safety boxes for their disposal, masks, gloves and other equipment to ensure that there is enough equipment for health workers to start vaccinating priority groups as soon as possible.

“If there is one lesson we can draw from the pandemic, it is that we need more partnerships like these in the world,” said the UNICEF South Sudan Representative Hamida Lasseko. “UNICEF is proud to have made vaccine deliveries all over the world including South Sudan on behalf of COVAX. Children in South Sudan are now safer because the warm hands of health workers are safer through vaccination.

South Sudan to receive its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines today

Juba—As the rest of the world steps up the fight against Covid-19 virus, South Sudan is expected to receive the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines as part of the vaccination program under the African Union and the African Center for Disease Control with support from MTN Telecom company.

The 59,000 doses of the Oxford-made AstraZeneca vaccine are being shipped and expected to arrive at the Juba International Airport today, the Ministry of Health announced.

In a related development, a bigger consignment of 132,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive in Juba on Thursday, through the COVAX global vaccination program for poorer nations, according to Radio Miraya.

According to the incident manager for COVID-19 in the national ministry of health, Dr. Richard Lino Laku, the first groups to be vaccinated are the frontline health care workers and people above the age of 65, as part of a national plan to vaccinate 20% of the population in the first phase.

Vice-President Rebecca Nyandeng tests positive for COVID-19

Vice-President for Gender and Youth Cluster, Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior tests positive for COVID-19 | File

South Sudan’s Vice-President for Gender and Youth Cluster, Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus upon arrival from Nairobi, Kenya, her office announced on Thursday.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, the Executive Director in the office the office of the Vice-President, Chaat Paul Nul, confirmed that the South Sudanese official is in stable condition are being quarantined at home.

According tO the World Health Organization (WHO), from 3 January 2020 to March 17, 2021, there have been 9,613 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 104 deaths in South Sudan.

Nyandeng was appointed last year as Vice-President for Gender and Youth Cluster in accordance with the implementation of the 2018 Peace Agreement.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Health and the National Task-Force on COVID-19 issued a statement extending the ongoing partial lockdown until April 3 as a countermeasure to curb the spread of coronavirus cases in the country.

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli dead at 61, vice president announces


By Reuters Staff

Breaking—Tanzania’s President John Magufuli, one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptics, has died aged 61, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan said on Wednesday after a more than two-week absence from public life that led to speculation about his health.

Magufuli, had not been seen in public since Feb. 27, sparking rumours that he had contracted COVID-19. Officials denied on March 12 that he had fallen ill. He was Tanzania’s first president to die while in office.

“Dear Tanzanians, it is sad to announce that today 17 March 2021 around 6 p.m. we lost our brave leader, President John Magufuli who died from heart illness at Mzena hospital in Dar es Salaam where he was getting treatment,” the vice president said on state broadcaster TBC.

She said burial arrangements were under way and announced 14 days of mourning and the flying of flags at half staff.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said on Friday that he had spoken to Magufuli, and blamed the narrative of the president’s ailment on some “hateful” Tanzanians living abroad.

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga tests positive for COVID-19

Kenyan veteran politician and former-Prime Minister | Courtesy Photo

A Kenyan veteran opposition leader, and former Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga has tested positive for COVID-19, his personal doctors confirmed in a statement.

“Following my letter of the 10th of March 2021 we have confirmed that Rt. Hon. Odinga has SARS-2 COVID 19. He is responding well to the treatment he is recciving at The Nairobi Hospital and remains upbeat. We are continuing to monitor his progress,” said a Consultant Neurosurgeon, David L. Oluach-Olunya.

Odinga, 76, has been a mainstay of Kenyan politics since the 1980s, and remains hugely popular despite losing four shots at the presidency.

Government to impose heavy fines on Covidiots

As citizens continue to flout Covid-19 measures, the National Task-Force on COVID-19 has announced heavy fines for anyone who doesn’t comply with the strict guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization.

So far, the Coronavirus has claimed more than 100 lives, forcing the Ministry of Health and the National Task-Force on COVID-19 to impose additional lockdowns as preventive measures to counter the spread of the virus.

Press Statement

New Restrictions and Penalties to Enforce Public Compliance with Measures to Reduce COVID-19 Spread

Whereas, the COVID-19 has been declared as a Pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Taskforce on Coronavirus Pandemic issued the Public Order No. 01/2021 dated 3 February 2021 to effect the partial lockdown measures, which will remain in force up to the 3rd March 2021.

Whereas, to enforce the National COVID-19 Guidelines and partial lockdown measures, the National Taskforce has considered it necessary to take further measures to prevent wider spread of COVID-19 across the country.

In view of the above, the National Taskforce is hereby once again putting in place the following measures:

• Extending the partial lockdown for additional one month starting from 3nd March to 3rd April 2021, subject to review.

• Warning the Public to stop receiving dead bodies in numbers at the airport, receptions and burials. This should only be attended to by not more than twenty immediate relatives:

• Only authorized health facilities are allowed to use the approved antigen- based rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) for screening purposes. Meanwhile, interested facilities are advised to apply to the NTF for authorization.

• Warning all the public and private health facilities not to admit any COVID- 19 patient or suspect. They should instate alert the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) by calling free toll, 6666;

• Directing Juba City Council and other town municipal councils to ensure that traders, hotels, customers and the general public comply with environmental cleaning, hygiene and sanitation, COVID-19 Guidelines and lockdown measures; and

• Directing Civil Aviation administration to assign more personnel to enforce COVID-19 measures at the entrance and within the airport to ensure all travelers comply with civil aviation safety and COVID-19 protocols.

The National Taskforce issues this Order to effect the following restrictions and measures for enforcing the COVID-19 protocols and partial lockdown measures in force, along with other South Sudan Panel Code 2008 that shall be applicable on whoever:

(a) Violates the guidelines banning funeral rites, reception, transport and burial of dead bodies.

(b) Does not comply with infection prevention and control measures at public places such as health facilities, airports, markets, hotels, restaurants, shops, tea places, public and private institutions,

(c) Transports people in public or private vehicles, boda-bodas and rakshas (rickshas) at more than half-capacity.

(d) Does not wear facemasks and observe social distancing measures in public places, vehicles, boda-bodas and rakshas (rickshas).

(e) Crew or passenger does not comply with precautionary measures at bus stations, airports, riverports and borders.

(f) Smuggles persons across borders or helping with illegal entry in to South Sudan territories.

(g) Does not comply with closure of learning institutions, sports activities, social events, places of worship, bars, nightclubs or other places that attract gatherings

(h) Disseminates false information or data on social media or misinformation related to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

South Sudan’s veteran politician Joseph Ukel succumbs to COVID-19

Veteran politician Joseph Ukel Abang receives treatment after contracting Covid-19 | Photo: Thessherald

A South Sudanese veteran politician and freedom fighter, Joseph Ukel Abang has succumbed to COVID-19 in the capital, Juba, his family confirmed in a statement on Friday.

“Rest in peace, uncle, you’re a hero and freedom fighter who undoubtedly contributed to the liberation struggle during the country’s years of liberation struggle for independence,” said James Ukel Abang.

Who’s Joseph Ukel Abang?

Joseph Ukel Abango (born 1939), commonly known as Joseph Ukel, is a veteran-politician of what is now South Sudan and an educationalist by profession.

Professional career

Joseph Ukel was born in January 1939 in Achot, a village close to the town bau in Bahr el Ghazal, when the Southern part of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was still isolated from the North due to the Closed District Ordinance. Ukel went to the catholic Elementary School between 1950 and 1954 in Mbili, southeast of Wau. When Sudan gained independence from the Condominium colonial rule in 1956, Ukel was attending the government Intermediate School in the Equatorian town of Maridi, where he graduated in 1958.

Staying in Maridi, he qualified as a teacher after completing a training course at the government-run Institute of Education between 1959 and 1962. The same year he started his first teaching-post in the Equatorian town of Kapoeta.

When the Anyanya rebellion escalated in Equatoria, Ukel moved to Northern Sudan, where he first worked as a schoolteacher in the Gezira area and then continued his studies at the University of Khartoum . He received a BA in English in 1972 from there.

When the Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972 ended the Anyanya rebellion and granted Southern Sudan autonomy, Ukel moved back to Bahr el Ghazal, where he taught English at Rumbek Secondary School. In 1975 he took up further studies at the University of Edinburgh , receiving a postgraduate diploma in teaching English as a foreign language a year later. From 1976 to 1977 he returned to his home area to teach at Mbili Girls Secondary School, holding the posts of deputy headmaster and headmaster, respectively.

Political career

In 1978 Ukel joined politics by contesting and winning his home constituency of Wau East in the elections to the Second People’s Regional Assembly in Juba . [1] He was re-elected in 1980 as a political ally of the Southern Front leader Abel Alier and appointed regional Minister of Culture and Information as Alier assumed the President of the High Executive Council. When Alier lost this office in October 1981, Ukel became the secretary for the publicity committee of the “Council for the Unity of the Southern Sudan” (CUSS) which advocated against the redivision of the South.

After the fall of Gaafar Nimeyri ’s regime in April 1985, Ukel was a founding member of the “Southern Sudan Political Association’s” (SSPA) political party and in 1986 became its Parliamentary group leader in the national Constituent Assembly of Omdurman.

In 1988, the SSPA joined other Southern and Nuba parties in a coalition called the United Sudan African Parties (USAP) that took the lead in organising dialogues with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). [3] Ukel became a minister of local government in the final coalition government of prime-minister Sadiq al Mahdi (25 April – 30 June 1989).

After the June 1989 coup, USAP was banned like all other parties and went underground. Ukel helped to form the domestic arm of the exiled National Democratic Alliance (NDA), an umbrella of parties and forces opposed to the “National Salvation Revolution” rule of General Omar al-Bashir , and was appointed its secretary general in 1992, while still working as a teacher of English language.

He was USAP chairman

Hilary Logali passed away in 1998, Ukel became his successor. During this period, he was repeatedly detained by al-Bashir’s government, the last time between December 2000 and October 2001 on charges of treason and sedition.

Ukel and Alier participated and mediated in the peace talks between the SPLM and al-Bashir’s government in Naivasha, Kenya, which led to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. Under its power-sharing agreement, USAP was allocated ten seats in the National Assembly and Ukel was appointed Minister of Parliamentary Affairs in the Government of National Unity.

In its campaign for the 2010 general elections, USAP defined as one of its main goals “unity in diversity” as opposed to separation, which it emphasized by the choice of Khartoum as its headquarters.

It failed to win any parliamentary seats, complaining about illicit actions against its campaigning. Nevertheless, Ukel was appointed the Minister for Higher Education in the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS).

After the independence of South Sudan in July 2011, Ukel was appointed Minister of General Education and served in this office until President Salva Kiir dismissed the whole cabinet in August 2013.

In the 2014 IGAD -led peace talks with the rebel SPLM-IO , Ukel was part of the government delegation, representing smaller opposition parties. [9] In April 2017, Ukel as USAP chairman was one of nine candidates picked by the government to represent South Sudan at the East African Legislative Assembly.

The same month, he was selected by Kiir as a member of the steering committee for the National Dialogue. [11] However, he was not elected by the Transitional National Legislative Assembly in Juba in August 2017.

In early 2018, a power struggle between Ukel and Elia Lomuro over control of the political parties alliance was reported. On 12 September 2018, the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) was signed in Addis, Ukel was one of the six signatories representing the Umbrella Coalition of Political Parties.

However, when the National Dialogue Steering Committee held a regional conference in Wau at the end of February 2019, Ukel reportedly walked out after not been given the chance to address the gathering and resigned from the National Dialogue.

In August of 2019, Ukel was reportedly arrested in Wau on allegations of supporting the rebel SPLM-IO and put under house arrest in Juba by the National Security Service (NSS). Two months later, in Mid-October, he was released from his confinements and arrived in Khartoum ” to seek medical treatment “.

Original source: Wikipedia 

Opinion | South Sudanese Lives Matter

“Let me not be misunderstood; I am not against the cake of your children…but I talk as a person in this field.”

Opinion | By Pal Chol Nyan

The world is hit by deadly pandemic, the COVID-19 which is killing people at an alarming rate. Ebola, also a deadly viral haemorrhagic fever, which was said to have been eradicated has cases reported again in Congo, one of neighbouring countries to South Sudan; which poses a risk here.

We have cholera, malaria and meningitis, which are endemic diseases that we deal with and live with at all times.

As the States governments are being formed, I thought the Health Ministers would be people in the medical and health discipline. It turned out not to be the case. It is a hope dashed . All or most of those appointed to the states Ministries of Health are lay people with different specializations, newly baptized into the political realm as a result of the R-ARCISS.

“Let me not be misunderstood; I am not against the cake of your children.”


The R-ARCISS is publicly known to have been tailored with extreme care by the warring Parties towards seeking jobs. This fact is substantiated by the legion of Advisers, Ministers, Commissioners, Chairpersons of Commissions, let alone the State lawmakers and Local councillors to be announced. Anyway, who am I to dispute what the owners have set themselves out to do?

I am not against the officials who won the confidence of the appointing authority but I talk as a person in this field. Assuming that a minister is invited by the International NGOs or UN agencies to discuss a particular case like Malaria, what will they say? Do not tell me the Minister is a political appointee and that the Director-General will handle health issues and the technical part.

It is important that the two must come from same field so that they don’t collide over the budget about what to use it for the benefit of the public and what goes to the pocket. Bringing a person from another sphere to the Health docket is inviting problems and conflicts which will hamper the real work of coping with the pandemic. There is a need for the leaders to revisit their decisions in the next political appointments because with this one, the dice has been cast.

The Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Education, Physical Infrastructures and Energy and Dams are supposed to be headed by technocrats. They will be in a position to know what is good for them and the people. They will not be focused on wealth creation and the enhanced dictum of nepotism, favouritism and tribal tendencies of all types. You can continue to politicize the other Ministries.

We have no problem but South Sudanese lives matter!


The writer is a South Sudanese who’s concerned about the ongoing situation in the country.


The views expressed in this “Opinion Section” belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The South Sudan Herald. Should you wish to submit your opinion piece or analysis, kindly contact us at: thessherald@gmail.com

Kiir’s office denies one of its aides, Nhial Deng contracted COVID-19

Minister of Presidential Affairs Hon. Nhial Deng | Photo: File

The Presidential Press Unit has denied speculative reports suggesting that the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial had contracted COVID-19 virus.

“The Media Department in the Office of the President has learned of a false news article trending on social media published by Sudan post website on 12th February 2021 which states that, the Minister of Presidential Affairs Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial, Executive Director in the Office of the President Hon. James Deng Wal along with unnamed SSBC journalist attached to the Office of the President have tested positive for coronavirus.”

The Office of the President noted the report, speculated on Facebook and local media outlets, was incorrect and carried no concrete evidence.

“This Press statement is to clarify that this news article published by Sudan post website on 12th February 2021 is untrue and totally unfounded. The Minister of Presidential Affairs Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial, Executive Director in the Office of the President Hon. James Deng Wal tested for Covid-19 and their results came out negative on February 11th ,2021.

“Only covid-19 results of the Press Secretary in the Office of the President Ateny Wek Ateny and 3 Junior staff [members] came out positive in the entire Office of the President.”

“In addition, No SSBC Journalist in the Office of the President tested Positive of Coronavirus. The Office of the President is wishing all the Covid 19 positive colleagues a quick recovery.”

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