Update – South Sudan has now confirmed its first case of Covid-19 (6th April).
In such a global crisis as Covid-19, it is easy for us to default to focusing on our own needs and those of our immediate community. This is of course important as all that we take for granted is stripped away. However, we can also take this opportunity to empathise with those worldwide who, at the best of times, struggle with the same uncertainty and fragility that we struggle with now.
For the time being, South Sudan only has one confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (although this is likely due to a lack of capacity for testing). But more cases are reported in the countries it borders:
|Countries bordering South Sudan||Confirmed cases of Covid-19 (as of 06/04/20)|
|Democratic Republic of Congo||154|
|Central African Republic||8|
|Data from Johns Hopkins University|
As of 23rd March, President Kiir has closed all airports and land crossings into South Sudan but it is highly likely that the virus has already spread into the population undetected. The world’s newest nation is still reeling from the recent civil war in which close to 400,000 died. It suffers from a threadbare healthcare system in which 10% of children die before the age of five. The threat of Covid-19 in a country like South Sudan without even the most basic of infrastructure could be devastating.
That said, sub-Saharan Africa could be protected from the full force of the global pandemic by its overall young population. Due to tragically high death rates in South Sudan through war, disease and food insecurity, 45% of the population of 12.5 million are under the age of 15. This means that Covid-19 could have a lesser impact, although underlying health conditions are numerous and widespread and malnutrition means that young people are perhaps more vulnerable than in high-income countries.
There is not much we can say with certainty, except that the Lord God is firmly in control, as He has always been and always will be:
‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’ (Psalm 27:1)
The true strength of AID’s work is that it is organised and implemented through local churches. In South Sudan, congregations have now stopped meeting on Sundays after the President banned all gatherings. The Jonglei Health Sciences Institute has temporarily suspended operations and Bishop Gwynne College is closed for the time being (updated 6th April). However, this does not mean that AID’s projects have all been put on hiatus. Manna Microfinance partners’ businesses are still open and the hygiene advocacy work of Trumpeter Community Health has taken on new significance. Our courageous and determined field partners have faced challenges and setbacks before and responded by persevering in continual prayer and faithful action. They will do so again in the strength of Christ.
Please join us in praying for South Sudan – you can do so using the following resources:
- Follow AID on Twitter at @AID_SSAfrica for daily prayer requests
- Go to https://www.prayercast.com/south-sudan.html for national prayer news
- Subscribe to AID’s updates on the PrayerMate app