Since the beginning of UNHCR’s COVID-19 response in Southern Africa
1.4 million people reached through COVID-19 risk communication
1,600 health staff trained on COVID-19 prevention and response
12,327 families received cash assistance to offset economic impacts of COVID-19 restrictions
8,995,989 people of concern to UNHCR in Southern Africa, including
768,991 refugees and 311,861 asylumseekers
5,721,781 internally displaced persons (IDPs) 2,134,349 IDP returnees and
23,248 refugee returnees
35,759 other people of concern
As of 1 July 2020, there are a reported 160,771 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the 16 countries covered by UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Southern Africa, an 89 per cent increase over a two-week period. South Africa continues to report the highest number of confirmed cases. Governments continue to take precautionary measures to limit the spread of the virus, which have varied from strict lockdowns with closure of borders, schools and shops, to lighter approaches of promoting of social distancing and wearing face masks. While many governments have been strengthening COVID-19 prevention and response measures, the number of confirmed cases is increasing in the region, amidst concerns about under-reporting due to limited testing capacity in some countries. Nevertheless, lockdowns and restrictions are gradually being eased in many countries of the region.
UNHCR continues to work with governments, World Health Organization (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 and partners have also committed to a ‘stay and deliver’ approach, continuing to provide critical services and assistance while adopting social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation measures. This includes implementation of strict health protocols at distribution points, the use of hotlines to report protection issues and assistance needs, and support to virtual and distance learning and capacity building. 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.