Since the beginning of UNHCR’s COVID-19 response in Southern Africa
2.9 million people reached through COVID-19 risk communication
382,567 people received soap to help reduce the spread of COVID-19
12,376 children and youth supported with distance and homebased learning
9,466,056 people of concern to UNHCR in Southern Africa, including
770,536 refugees and
6,385,489 internally displaced persons (IDPs)
1,938,223 IDP returnees and 23,248 refugee returnees
36,418 other people of concern
As of 1 September 2020, there are a reported 702,804 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the 16 countries covered by UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Southern Africa. This includes 49,004 new reported cases over a two-week period. 89 per cent of all reported cases in the region are in South Africa. While Governments across the region continue to take precautionary measures to limit the spread of the virus, many of the stricter measures, such as lockdowns, movement restrictions, and closure of borders, schools and shops are being gradually eased.
This easing of restrictions comes at a time when people of concern – refugees, IDPs, stateless people and other marginalized communities – have become deeply impacted by lost income as a result of limitations on movement and economic activity and have been struggling to put food on the table, pay rent, or cover the cost of utilities. As COVID-19 responses continue to be rolled out across the region, UNHCR is working with governments, the World Health Organization and other UN agencies and NGOs to ensure and expand the inclusion of people of concern in preparedness and response measures for COVID-19, including in social safety nets and other social assistance programs.
UNHCR and partners have committed to a ‘stay and deliver’ approach and have continued to provide critical services and assistance throughout the pandemic. Programmes have been adapted to observe social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation measures, including implementation of health protocols at distribution points, the use of hotlines to report protection issues and assistance needs, and support to virtual and distance learning. UNHCR has also been expanding its outreach efforts in the region with the support of partners and community volunteers to spread the message among persons of concern and their host communities about COVID-19 prevention and services.