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UNHCR East and Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes Region COVID-19 External Update (13-19 May 2020)

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Operational Context

The COVID-19 situation in the East and Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes (EHAGL) region continues to evolve. As of 19 May, there were 8,329 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the countries covered by UNHCR’s EHAGL Regional Bureau, representing a nearly 40% increase over the last week. While there has been no large-scale outbreak amongst UNHCR’s populations of concern so far, 4.7 million refugees and 8.1 million IDPs and their host communities are at risk. The need for preparedness remains urgent as cases of local transmission have now been reported in all countries of the region. Measures by governments in the region to contain the spread of COVID-19 continue to evolve, particularly directives on physical distancing and limitations on movement. In Kenya, for example, the Government extended the restriction of movement between counties and the nationwide curfew until 6 June. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the region is plagued by multiple crises. The rainy season has commenced which has led to increased humanitarian needs as a result of additional displacement due to flooding and landslides. Cholera outbreaks are also to be expected. Locusts swarms are poised to infest the region which, if not contained, will result in a potentially serious food security crisis. These crises add to the complexities of responding to the pandemic where restrictive movement and limited physical interaction is a key strategy to mitigate the spread of the virus in the region.