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Health worker safety and security in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (Update September 2020)

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Throughout 2020, conflict actors perpetrated violence against health care providers every week. After the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, conflict parties around the world seemed to pause to evaluate the situation, but within a week, the number of recorded conflict incidents that affected health care started to climb again, peaking during the week of April 15th 2020.

Overall, COVID-19 does not appear to be affecting the patterns of conflict-related violence against health care in an obvious way. Conflict-related violence against health care is driven by the strategic logic of conflict actors. COVID-19 is one of many factors influencing conflict strategies. However, COVID-19 compounds the impact of such violence.

Health systems are vital during the pandemic. Damage and destruction of health care facilities and the killing and kidnapping of health personnel undermines all health care, including the COVID-19 response. It remains, therefore, important that the changing conflict dynamics that affect health care are well understood. This brief provides an overview of the most recent conflict-violence trends and their impact on health care in 2020