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South Sudan: COVID-19 prevention and promotion of national identity as citizens of Yambio gather to revel in face masks

Hundreds of face mask-wearing Yambio citizens have been spotted reading vital COVID-19 prevention messages in their own local languages, courtesy of the UN Mission in South Sudan.

They enjoyed such illuminating sneak peeks at their flash cards while also relishing the launch of a campaign, Ana Junubi (“I’m South Sudanese"), aiming to promote peace by strengthening national identity and social cohesion.which means “I am South Sudanese”.

“I am very happy. I came here to hear about how we can think of ourselves as South Sudanese instead of as belonging just to a certain tribe, but as a bonus I also received this leaflet with messages in my language about COVID-19. I will read it carefully and pass it on to others,” said Suzan Gbiaundore, one of the campaign revellers.

During the launch at the Freedom Square in Yambio, potentially life-saving information on how to prevent oneself and others from the Coronavirus was handed out in not only English and Arabic but also in the locally speaking widely spoken Azande language. Civil society organizations complemented the joyous occasion by distributing face masks, which may have somewhat muffled any spontaneous ululations, but for a good and greater cause.

Traditional singer Simon Wasi thoroughly approved of the initiative as well.

“The COVID-19 threat is real, and the virus is not going away anytime soon. We need to continue to raise awareness through messaging, provide face masks to the people and maintain physical distancing as best we can,” he asserted.

Wilson Thomas, Secretary General of the government of Western Equatoria State and sporting a fine face mask himself, hailed both of the main points made at the festive gathering.

“This activity is of great importance to help us calling ourselves South Sudanese, to first and foremost embrace our nationality. As for the COVID-19, we will keep encouraging our people to respect the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health.”

The Ana Junubi project, scheduled to cover the states of Western Bahr El Ghazal and Upper Nile as well, is being implemented by the Yambio Civic Engagement Center together with the Young Women Christian Organization with support from the United States Agency for International Development.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).