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Sudan 'urgently' needs $283 million to fight virus - UN

The UN's Sudan humanitarian coordinator said the pandemic had worsened an economic crisis, hitting purchasing power, while movement restrictions had restricted people's access to food, health care and basic services.

FILE: A woman consults a doctor at a small treatment centre set up by local volunteers in the Shambat district of northern Khartoum on 18 June 2020, amid acute shortage of medicine as Sudan fights to control the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. Picture: AFP

KHARTOUM - The United Nations on Sunday made an urgent appeal for $283 million to help Sudan tackle the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences, as millions in the country face hunger.

"COVID-19 arrived in Sudan at a time when an increasing part of the population was already struggling to meet their basic needs and the health system was already under extreme stress," said the UN's Sudan humanitarian coordinator Gwi-Yeop Son.

She said the pandemic had worsened an economic crisis, hitting purchasing power, while movement restrictions had restricted people's access to food, health care and basic services.

"Unless we act now, we should be prepared for a series of human tragedies," she said.

Sudan has officially registered more than 10,000 cases of the COVID-19 illness and around 650 deaths, pushing authorities to re-impose a lockdown on Khartoum state, including the capital, that was loosened earlier this month.

That came on top of acute economic woes that have seen people queuing for hours to buy essential foods and fuel. Inflation topped 114% in May.

Protests sparked by the previous government's abrupt tripling of bread prices in late 2018 prompted the army to oust longtime dictator Omar Al-Bashir.

Tinago Chikoto, the UN humanitarian coordination office's deputy chief for Sudan, said more than 9.6 million people, almost a quarter of the entire population, "are facing severe hunger, the highest figure ever recorded in Sudan."

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