The spread of the coronavirus in Africa is intersecting with the continent’s population displacement crisis. Protecting displaced persons and migrants will be key to reducing the overall rates of transmission.
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Conflict and repressive governance have resulted in record levels of forced displacement as well as economic migration in Africa. These population movements, in turn, are generating new revenue streams for militant extremist groups and criminal networks.
Africa’s humanitarian crises have continued to worsen in 2017. Twenty million Africans have been displaced from their homes and 44 million are acutely food insecure.
A spike in political violence since mid-2016 has caused the worst humanitarian crisis in South Sudan since its decades-long civil war with Sudan.
A snapshot of Africa’s displaced populations reveals that 71 percent of Africa’s 18.5 million displaced persons are from 5 countries (Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo), and while much of global attention has focused on refugee migration into Europe, two-thirds of Africa’s dislocated population are internally displaced.
An additional 4 million Africans were forced from their homes due to conflict and repressive governance in the past year, continuing an upward trend since 2011.
Presidential task forces, staggered mobility, support for the most vulnerable, and local innovations mark Africa’s adaptive response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
With urban population densities and poverty rates among the world’s highest, innovative measures will be needed to prevent African cities from becoming hotspots of the coronavirus pandemic.
African countries face varying levels of risk that will require adapting a diversified set of response strategies to the coronavirus. The most vulnerable countries may not be those with the earliest onset.
The coronavirus is placing severe strains on Africa’s health, economic, and security sectors. Mitigation and suppression efforts will require a comprehensive government response built on clear communications and public trust.
Rising violence by militant Islamist groups in the Sahel is straining intercommunal tensions, threatening the foundations of social cohesion in the region.
The dynamism of clandestine African migration flows continues to present criminal and violent extremist groups opportunities for exploitation.