Photo: Lokman Ilhan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Issue No: 26/2020

COVID-19 Conflict & Resilience Monitor – 14 October 2020

Special edition on Somalia

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ACCORD COVID-19 Conflict & Resilience Monitor
References: AfricaCDC, ACLED and African Arguments

In this week’s edition of the ACCORD COVID-19 Conflict & Resilience Monitor, we focus on the impact of COVID-19 on Somalia, and how Somali society as well as the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) in Somalia have adapted to the pandemic.

We start with a reflection by Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira, Special Representative of the AU for Somalia and head of the AU Mission in Somalia, on how the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was affected by COVID-19 and the steps it has taken to manage the pandemic, both in its own ranks and in terms of continuing with its operations.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) and head of mission of the UN assistance mission to Somalia (UNSOM), James Swan, considers the impact of COVID-19 on the humanitarian situation, the upcoming election and political developments in Somalia.

Somalia is situated in the Horn of Africa, and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, takes a broader look at the impact of COVID-19 on the region.

We end this week’s edition with a contribution by Yusuf Mussa, who looks at what COVID-19 reveals about the resilience of Somali society. He calls for a concerted and sustained effort by all to support Somalia’s resilience to manage this difficult period.

Managing Editor: COVID-19 Conflict & Resilience Monitor
Chief Editor: COVID-19 Conflict & Resilience Monitor​
Photo: AMISOM Photo/Yunis Hussein Dekow
Photo: AMISOM Photo/Yunis Hussein Dekow
Francisco Caetano Madeira

The effects of COVID-19 on AMISOM operations in Somalia

  • Amb. Francisco Caetano José Madeira

The escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic across Africa, which began in March 2020, has gravely affected how the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) undertakes its operations. Given the multifaceted mandates of AMISOM, which include undertaking activities requiring close-quarters congregations and contact with Somali stakeholders, a balance has to be struck on how to continually discharge these mandates without putting the lives of its personnel and that of the Somali community in jeopardy.

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Photo: UNSOM Somalia
Photo: UNSOM Somalia

Like so many others around the world at the start of this year, I and members of the UN family watched with alarm the growing spread and impact of COVID-19 in Somalia and elsewhere in the world. Our biggest worry was the potential for the pandemic to spiral out of control. Somalia is rebuilding after three decades of conflict, protracted crises and repeated humanitarian emergencies. Continued insecurity makes parts of the country inaccessible to humanitarian workers.

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Photo: Abdirazak Hussein Farah/AFP via Getty Images
Photo: Abdirazak Hussein Farah/AFP via Getty Images
Parfait Onanga-Anyanga

The impact of COVID-19 on the Horn of Africa

  • Parfait Onanga-Anyanga

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was first reported in the Horn of Africa region in early March 2020. At first, the number of cases seemed low compared to other regions, both on the continent and around the globe; however, these figures did increase steadily. Six months into the pandemic, it is encouraging to note the downward trend in the number of cases and deaths over the past few weeks. Thus far, more than 150 000 cases have been reported in the Horn of Africa. However, testing capacity is still quite limited, making the numbers a poor indicator of the actual infection rate. As pointed out by Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa-CDC), both the drastic preventative measures applied across Africa by governments in the first months of the pandemic and the continent’s young population certainly played a significant role in limiting the devastating impact of the virus, as seen elsewhere. Regional and international efforts have also helped in hampering the immediate impact of the pandemic, but a sustained and coordinated effort is needed to reduce the longer-term effects of COVID-19, particularly the effects on public health and the economy.

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Photo: UNSOM Somalia
Photo: UNSOM Somalia
Yusuf Mussa
Political Unrest or Violence

COVID-19: Societal Resilience but Depreciating Exigency

  • Yusuf Mussa

When COVID-19 seized global attention in 2020, Somalia, a country in the Horn of Africa with a history of conflict and instability, was already facing a critical year. The methodology of the upcoming federal elections in early 2021 was in dispute, amid a tug of war between the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member States, and the spectre of renewed conflict as a result of political impasse loomed. The early forecast for Somalia was bleak and the possibility of a major humanitarian crisis was projected. Compounding the political and security issues plaguing Somalia’s development, environmental disasters such as locusts and floods were impacting food security and causing displacement. Moreover, Somalia’s health infrastructure ranks second-last on the Global Health Security Index. With the nascent recovery of Somalia relying on significant and sustained support for governance and security from the international community, the arrival of COVID-19 was another crisis with hitherto unforeseen impact.

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