Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugees and their protection in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected refugees and their protection? To respond to this question, we conducted a study using a qualitative questionnaire in six countries in East Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa, namely Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. In this paper, we explore the information provided by the 90 respondents and focus on three main areas. We first address vulnerable groups and the new, additional and prolonged challenges, as well as potential tensions among refugees and between refugees and host communities due to the pandemic. We then turn to refugee protection by regional, state and humanitarian actors and the influence of donors during the pandemic, showing that aid has been strongly limited. Moreover, we argue in the third part of the paper that refugees represent important actors; refugee-led community-based responses are highly relevant for the people across the six countries for delivering material and immaterial assistance and also mitigating tensions and contributing to peaceful environments.