South Africa + 15 more

COVID-19 Emergency Response: Regional Bureau for Southern Africa, 14 May 2020



4,909 people reached with emergency assistance over a one-week period in South Africa, including 2,832 receiving cash assistance and 2,015 receiving food parcels.

More than 8,000 refugees, IDPs and host communities reached in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with awareness-raising messages about COVID-19 prevention and response measures.

12,000 masks and 500 gowns provided in Zimbabwe to equip an isolation centre in Tongogara refugee camp, which is in an area designated by Government as a COIVD-19 hotspot.

Population Figures

8,873,757 persons of concern in the region, including 768,694 refugees, 311,032 asylum-seekers, 5,600,782 IDPs, and 2,134,349 IDP returnees (as of 3 May).

Operational Context

Across the Southern Africa region, national efforts to contain COVID-19 include varying restrictions on movement, limits on social gatherings, prohibition of public events, suspension of commercial flights, closure of borders, and nation-wide lockdowns. Exceptions are often made for goods and cargo, as well as returning citizens and legal residents to move across borders. While some countries have extended their lockdowns and states of emergency, many are beginning phased approaches to ease COVID-19 restrictions.

UNHCR is working with governments, WHO and other UN agencies and NGOs to secure the inclusion of persons of concern – refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), stateless people and other marginalized communities – in preparedness and response measures for COVID-19. UNHCR has also been expanding its outreach efforts in the region with the support of partners and community volunteers to better engage persons of concern and their host communities with information about COVID-19 prevention and services.

In order to continue monitoring affected communities’ perception of COVID-19, UNHCR and partners are carrying out remote surveys to understand the needs, fears and threats expressed by the population. To encourage social distancing, UNHCR has been promoting the use of hotlines to report protection issues, such as sexual and genderbased violence (SGBV) as well as general assistance needs.