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Latin America & The Caribbean - COVID-19 External and Internal Restrictions and Impact Snapshot - As of 24 September 2020

Situation Report
Originally published



Despite Latin America and the Caribbean accounting for more COVID-19 cases than any other region in the world, governments in the region have taken to loosening various restrictions to revive economies ravaged by the impact of lockdown measures implemented to curb the spread of the virus. While countries strive to find a balance between reactivating their economies and managing future infection waves, millions across the region, including migrants and refugees, continue to deal with the fallout of access limitations on their livelihoods and food security.


According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the region faces a lost decade, as national resources face growing poverty, rising unemployment and skyrocketing debt, which may lead to increased austerity measures. The International Labour Organization (ILO) says Latin America and the Caribbean has lost nearly US$500 billion in labour income during the first three quarters of 2020. While not the highest loss in the world, it remains a 10.1 per cent of GDP, higher than any other region. ILO further reports a quarterly average loss of more than a fifth of total working hours, also higher than anywhere else in the world. All told, Latin America and the Caribbean has lost nearly 150 million jobs through the first nine months of the year, a severe blow to livelihoods that will likely lead to multiple long-term needs.


The impact of the various restrictions has led to greater food security needs in all parts of the region. UNICEF in Guatemala reports that one in every four surveyed families have eliminated a daily meal due to limited food access. WFP aid efforts in Colombia and Ecuador are dealing with several challenges, including closed community kitchens and suspended voucher programmes due to ongoing border closures. Partners in the Caribbean, whose tourism-reliant economies suffered due to travel restrictions, report increases in people skipping meals, eating less and facing difficulties in eating enough.


Migrants, refugees and returnees are suffering disproportionately from the COVID-19 crisis, forcing responses for these populations to address various indirect impacts of the pandemic in addition to core needs common to people on the move. More than half of the 19,000 people Shelter partners in Honduras have responded during the crisis to are returnees, for example. R4V partners in the Southern Cone countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay report that COVID-19’s impact on migrant and refugee livelihoods, housing and food account for nearly 90 per cent of their activities.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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