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Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Refugees and Their Protection in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe


Funding: The collaborative project is connected to two projects, namely “Forced Migration, Women – and Peace?” led by Ulrike Krause at Osnabrück University and “Forced Displacement in Africa” led by Franzisca Zanker ABI, both independently funded by the German Foundation for Peace Research (DSF).

Timeframe: since December 2020

Involved researchers: Ulrike Krause, Nadine Segadlo and Hannah Edler at Osnabrück University as well as Franzisca Zanker at ABI


The current COVID-19 pandemic affects all people worldwide but those in particularly vulnerable positions, including refugees and displaced people, may be exposed to greater risks. In a recent study, we explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected refugees and refugee protection in six countries in West Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa, namely Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, during the first year of the pandemic up to and including February 2021.


About the study

The study was conducted by Ulrike Krause, Nadine Segadlo, Hannah Edler and Franzisca Zanker as part of the two research projects “Forced Migration, Women – and Peace? Peacebuilding practices of women in refugee camps” and “Forced Displacement in Africa: The politics and stakeholders of migration governance”. The projects are independently funded by the German Foundation for Peace Research (DSF). Due to the pandemic, the respective principal investigators of the projects decided to cooperate and jointly study in comparative perspective the effects of the pandemic on refugees and refugee protection.

Forced Migration, Women – and Peace?” is led by Ulrike Krause and carried out by Nadine Segadlo at the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS) and the Institute for Social Sciences, Osnabrück University. The project draws on the broad academic discourses about the nexus of conflict and displacement, complementing these narratives by placing peace at the core of its investigations. Through empirical research in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya, the project aims to explore how refugees there – and women especially – understand peace, how they seek to contribute to peaceful conditions on-site and in regions of origin, and what opportunities and limitations they experience in their respective peacebuilding practices.

Forced Displacement in Africa” is led by Franzisca Zanker at the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute, and is conducted in close cooperation with co-researchers Khangelani Moyo in South Africa and Ronald Kalyango Sebba in Uganda. The project draws on and contributes to Conflict Studies as well as (Forced) Migration Studies to better understand migration governance in conflict-torn regions. To this end, the research aims to explore the political stakes and societal discourses related to migration governance in and across four cases in sub-Saharan Africa: namely South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It considers the different types of stakeholders (including both governmental and nongovernmental ones) involved in developing migration-governance polices, their roles and the types of influence they leverage. Thus, the project applies a multi-scalar perspective, differentiating between numerous types of agency (external/internal) and actors (governmental/nongovernmental) respectively.

An overview of the project is also available on ABI’s website.



Segadlo, Nadine; Krause, Ulrike; Zanker, Franzisca; Edler, Hannah (2021), 'Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugees and their protection in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe', ABI Working Paper No. 18 (Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (ABI), Freiburg: ABI).

Segadlo, Nadine; Krause, Ulrike; Zanker, Franzisca; Edler, Hannah (2021). '"Everyone was overwhelmed by the fears and the panic of the unknown disease” Kenyan Refugee Protection and the COVID-19 Pandemic', IMIS Working Paper No. 10 (Institut für Migrationsforschung und Interkulturelle Studien (IMIS) der Universität Osnabrück, Osnabrück: IMIS).


Executive summaries

In order to make the research results widely accessible, the executive summary was translate into six languages. These languages were identified based on feedback provided by the respondents of the questionnaire.   

Executive Summary (English)

Résumé (French)

Takaitaccen Bayani (Hausa)

Isifinqo socwayisiso (Ndebele)

Pfupiso yetsvakurudzo (Shona)

Nuxurka Guud (Somali)

Muhtasari wa maelezo (Swahili)

We thank Asneth Alistides, Lukambo Luundo, Khangelani Moyo, Zacharia Odawa, Yahaya Banku Omar, Joyce Takaindisa and Moctar Dan Yaye for their help with translations.



In addition, the team developed infographics about results on each country.

Refugee Protection in South Africa during COVID-19

Refugee Protection in Uganda during COVID-19

Refugee Protection in Ghana during COVID-19

Refugee Protection in Zimbabwe during COVID-19

Refugee Protection in Kenya during COVID-19

Refugee Protection in Nigeria during COVID-19


Media Engagement

  • Press release by Osnabrück University entitled "Studie: Corona-Pandemie hat weitreichende Folgen für Geflüchtete in afrikanischen Staaten", 20 December 2021. The press release is available online: Link (in German)

  • Report about our research in the series „Aus Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaften“ of Deutschlandfunk entitled "Forschungen zur Situation in afrikanischen Flüchtlingscamps", 11 November 2021. Access to the repor: Link (in German).