Living with fear of COVID-19 in a refugee camp

Susan Grace Duku, a South Sudanese refugee living in Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement in Uganda, is describing how it is to live in lockdown and fear of coronavirus in a refugee camp

Listen to the full 15 minute interview with Susan Grace Duku by clicking this link:

As COVID-19 is spreading in refugee hosting contexts around the world, it is becoming more urgent than ever to listen to the voices of affected populations to better understand their needs, reflections, coping strategies and access to information. Moreover, it is the right of affected population to have access to timely and relevant information and to take part in decisions that affects their lives.

Click the link above to listen to a recorded conversation between Susan Grace Duku a South Sudanese refugee living in Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement in Uganda and Ayo Degett, PhD fellow in the Protection Unit at the International Department in DRC and Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen. It is part of a larger research project (2018-2022) investigating refugee’s access to participation in humanitarian action through ethnographic research among South Sudanese, Syrian and Sudanese refugees.

Due to the nature of the project, Ayo is in daily contact with refugees in camps and urban settings where some have expressed a desire to communicate their reflections about the current situation to a wider audience among them, Susan Grace Duku.

Susan first and foremost describes herself as a Woman’s Activist, she is a local community leader in Rhino Camp Settlement Uganda where she represents and advocates for women’s interests as the Woman Representative in the Refugee Welfare Council (RWC). She was elected for this role as well as for Refugee Representative for the CRRF (Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework) in Uganda and as Member of the Refugee Engagement Forum.

As many refugee women, Susan has many mouths to feed. She is a hardworking single mother of four children and is taking care of nine additional children in her household in the refugee settlement. She earns her living through a small shop in the camp selling children’s’ clothing. However, in the Ugandan Government’s attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus all non-food shops and all private transportation has been closed down. And Susan finds herself without any income, possibilities to move out of the settlement or accessing cash transfers. In the conversation she also highlights important aspects of living in a refugee camp during COVID-19 such as: not having access to soap and handwashing facilities, having to find alternative income opportunities in the hosting community, navigating information about access to basic services such as General Food Distribution (GFD), trying to steer clear of fake news about the virus circulating in the camp among others.