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The impact of COVID-19 on refugees and migrants moving through Puntland, Somalia

On 16 March 2020, the Somali federal government confirmed its first case of coronavirus. This triggered a quick succession of regulations that closed air, land and sea ports of entry, and led to the closure of most public spaces including mosques, schools, and restaurants. At the same time, other governments across East Africa implemented strict travel restrictions and widespread border closures to combat the spread. These restrictions significantly impacted mixed movements1 throughout the region, and many migrants were stranded and unable to move on or to return to their countries of origin. The restrictions also disrupted the movement of refugees and migrants in mixed movements through Puntland and other regions of Somalia.

With the support of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in 2020 the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) collaborated on a partnership to strengthen the protection of people in mixed movements and to prevent the abuse of people on the move in Puntland. Through MMC’s flagship primary data collection program, the Mixed Migration Monitoring Mechanism Initiative (4Mi), MMC collected systematic data directly from refugees and migrants at various entry and transit locations in Puntland, which was used to understand the dynamics affecting movement and protection risks within the context of the pandemic.

Based on a 4Mi survey conducted with 989 respondents in Puntland between August and December 2020, this analysis aims to provide some insights on the profiles of refugees and migrants on the move through Puntland in the context of the pandemic; awareness and protective measures; and analyse the impact of COVID-19 on their mobility, livelihood situation, needs and access to services, and protection.

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