DR Congo + 16 more

UNHCR COVID-19 Response: Southern Africa, 1 - 31 May 2021

Situation Report
Originally published



Since UNHCR’s COVID-19 response began in Southern Africa in March 2020

2.8 million people reached through COVID-19 risk communication

280,886 individuals received reusable (non-medical) face masks

131 government health facilities and 36 camp and settlementbased health facilities supported

Population Figures

7,518,699 people of concern to UNHCR in Southern Africa, including

762,807 refugees and 308,975 asylumseekers

6,410,283 internally displaced persons (IDPs)

36,664 other people of concern

Operational Context

As of 1 June 2021, the region is reporting 2,181,001 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the 16 countries covered by UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Southern Africa. This represents an increase of 118,895 recorded cases during the month of May, and a 68 per cent increase in the number of active cases from the previous month. Countries including Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa and Zambia have reported an increase in COVID-19 rates, with some governments, such as in the DRC and South Africa, announcing that the countries have entered a “third wave”. To combat the rising case numbers, COVID-19 prevention measures and restrictions have been extended or tightened in many of the affected countries. UNHCR and partners have maintained protection services and other life-saving assistance throughout the COVID19 pandemic. Mitigation measures are in place at registration and distribution points, and hotlines and community structures support protection case management. UNHCR continues to focus on risk communication and awareness-raising to increase understanding about COVID-19, encourage compliance with prevention measures, and inform about available services. Health systems strengthening continues to be a priority, equipping health centres, training health workers, and establishing isolation and quarantine centres. Additional handwashing facilities continue to be installed and maintained, and additional soap continues to be distributed. UNHCR is also providing cash assistance and core relief items (CRIs) to those worst impacted by COVID-19 and related restrictions. Where schools have been closed, children and youth have been supported with virtual and distance learning, and as schools re-open they have been supported to implement COVID-19 preventive measures. UNHCR is working closely with governments, the World Health Organization and other UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to secure the inclusion of persons of concern to UNHCR – refugees, asylumseekers, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and stateless persons – into preparedness and response measures for COVID-19. Given the impacts on livelihoods and economic opportunities, UNHCR advocates for people of concern to UNHCR to be included into social safety nets and other social assistance programmes for COVID-19. Importantly, countries in the region have started rolling out COVID-19 vaccination programmes with stocks acquired through COVAX, as well as contributions from other countries and direct acquisition from manufacturers. UNHCR Representations across the region have actively engaged with government ministries to ensure that people of concern are included in national vaccine plans. Refugees and asylum-seekers living in camps and settlements have started receiving their vaccines in countries such as Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. While it is more difficult to track vaccination for persons of concern to UNHCR living in urban areas, countries such as South Africa have committed to including them in the national vaccination campaign alongside nationals.