Nigeria + 3 more

A clash of contagions: the impact of COVID-19 on conflict in Nigeria, Colombia, and Afghanistan (June 2021)

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Dr. Ryan Sheely, Gabrielle Aron, Dr. Adam Lichtenheld, Daniel Herrera Kelly, Kamran Hakiman, and Michael Fane authored this report


The COVID-19 pandemic has been a global humanitarian crisis of unprecedented magnitude but its health and non-health effects have been far from uniform across the world. In more than 40 countries where Mercy Corps’ team of 5,600 humanitarians work, the pandemic has undermined hard-won development gains. Indeed, the pandemic’s full range of secondary impacts are yet to be seen but they will outlast disease spread. Especially in fragile and conflict-affected contexts, communities face a multitude of compounding challenges, some of which emerged during the pandemic and others which pre-existed but have worsened as a result of COVID-19. Recognizing the need to better understand the relationship between the pandemic and conflict, Mercy Corps’ Research and Learning Team and Crisis Analytics Team jointly undertook this year-long study.

Our aim was to investigate, document, and analyze how the spread of COVID-19 has shaped conflict, insecurity, and instability. This report is a culmination of that effort. It not only showcases the nuanced findings of our rigorous, evidence-based research in Afghanistan, Colombia and Nigeria, but it also offers recommendations to donors, policymakers, and practitioners.

Our hope is that readers will heed the warning signs that emerge from the direct testimonies of communities in the pages that follow to devise, fund, and implement conflict-sensitive humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding responses to enable an equitable and sustainable pandemic recovery.

Dina Esposito
Interim Vice President
Policy, Research and Technical Leadership

Anissa Toscano
Vice President
Humanitarian Leadership and Response