Since UNHCR’s COVID-19 response began in Southern Africa in March 2020
255,380 people received reusable cloth face masks
459,438 people received additional soap to promote handwashing
45 quarantine and isolation centres established
9,578,204 people of concern to UNHCR in Southern Africa, including
767,910 refugees and 312,059 asylumseekers
6,500,213 internally displaced persons (IDPs)
1,938,223 IDP returnees and 23,262 refugee returnees
36,537 other people of concern
As of 9 November 2020, there have been 862,841 reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the 16 countries covered by UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Southern Africa. While case numbers continue to grow in most countries, it is at a much slower pace than recent months, with 32,436 new reported cases over the past two weeks. Across the region, governments continue to ease restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, such as lifting lockdowns and movement restrictions including opening of international borders, and reopening schools, shops, and other businesses. In most cases, basic prevention measures, such as mask wearing, screening and hand sanitizing in public spaces remain in place.
Throughout the pandemic, UNHCR and partners have committed to a ‘stay and deliver’ approach, continuing to provide critical protection services and assistance. Programmes have been adapted to observe social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation measures, health protocols are in place at registration and distribution points, and hotlines and community protection structures are utilized to support case management. UNHCR has focused heavily on risk communication and outreach efforts to spread information about COVID-19 prevention and services. Health systems strengthening has also been a priority, by equipping health centres and training health workers, and establishing isolation and quarantine centres to reduce the risk of transmission, particularly in camps. Additional handwashing facilities have been installed and additional soap has been distributed to promote good hygiene practices and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. UNHCR has also been providing cash assistance and core relief items (CRIs) to those worst impacted by lockdowns and other restrictions, while children and youth have been supported with virtual and distance learning to continue with their studies.
UNHCR continues working closely with governments, the World Health Organization and other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to promote and secure the inclusion of people of concern into preparedness and response measures for COVID-19. Given the serious impacts that COVID-19 regulations have had on livelihoods and economic opportunities, including for people of concern – refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced people (IDPs) and stateless peoples – in social safety nets and other social assistance programmes is particularly critical.