The East and Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes (EHAGL) region is host to some 4.74 million refugees and asylum-seekers, the majority from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia, with significant numbers from Burundi, Sudan, and Eritrea. The region hosts 67 per cent of the refugees on the African continent and 20 per cent of the global refugee population. The region also has approximately 9.99 million IDPs, mostly in Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Burundi, due to both conflict and natural disasters.
Since early 2020, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to adversely affect the livelihoods, health and wellbeing of Persons of Concern and host communities in the region, the majority of whom live in camps and settlements. The first cases of COVID-19 in the region were reported in March 2020. As of 30 June 2021, there were 663,134 confirmed COVID-19 cases amongst the general population in the 11 countries in the EHAGL Region.
Refugees, IDPs and their host communities remain impacted by the economic and social effects of the pandemic and at risk of contracting the virus. Most of the countries in the region have seen multiple waves of COVID-19 and the need for preparedness remains urgent as several locations still lack adequate quarantine, testing and isolation/treatment facilities. Governments have put in place various measures to contain the spread of the virus and are periodically announcing changes to movement restrictions and other preventive measures with countries such as Rwanda and Uganda imposing a partial lockdown during the reporting period to curb surging cases of COVID-19.
In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the region is plagued by multiple crises. The region is facing critical levels of nutrition and food insecurity with three out of the ten worst food crises in the world for the past three years 2018-2020: South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Sudan. Dependency of the refugee population on humanitarian assistance for their basic needs is increasing. With limited livelihood and agricultural opportunities, in addition to food ration cuts in seven of the eleven country operations in the region, most countries are experiencing climate (droughts, flooding) and economic shocks, compounded by COVID-19 related measures.