Refugees Facing COVID-19: A Double Burden

The worldwide spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a severe human impact, mainly in the United States and Europe. For the time being, Africa seems to be less affected, based on the relatively small number of infected people and deaths. Several explanations have been put forward to support this finding, ranging from hot climates to acquired immunity from previous health challenges to traditional miracle cures. In their management of the new epidemic, African countries must logically face up to their primary responsibility towards their own citizens, which raises the problem of refugees who, in their vast majority, are settled in African countries. However, most of these countries cannot honour their conventional and moral commitments to this vulnerable population without external support. Such support, in the form of humanitarian aid and development assistance, is likely to be affected by the socio-economic consequences of this crisis on the financial capacity of the major donor countries. As a result, this could lead to a possible worsening of the refugee situation in the African continent. This paper addresses the particular situation of refugees in Africa in the context of the new pandemic, as well as the obligations of host States towards them and the demand for international solidarity, in a context of national retrenchment, widespread economic recession and an inexorable erosion of multilateral action.