The Impact of COVID-19 on Conflict-affected and Fragile States

August 10, 2020

While the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have reached the entire planet, failure to support the response to the virus in fragile and conflict affected states could have catastrophic and far-reaching consequences. The virus is likely to exacerbate tensions that contribute to conflict, including joblessness, food insecurity, competition for resources, marginalization, displacement and opportunistic actions by extremists, warlords and even states.

The risks of popular protest, delayed elections and constitutional processes, political instability and increased insecurity are high. Political instability and deepening insecurity will have serious spill over effects on entire regions. Failure to contain the pandemic and its possible or likely consequences, including population movement, a resurgence in illicit economic activity and an uptick in violence, with women and girls likely to be most affected, will among other things affect European states’ ability to relax restrictions and resume trade and economic activity with large parts of the world.

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The European Institute of Peace (EIP) is taking stock of the impact that Covid-19 is having on the fragile and conflict-affected countries in which it operates. The Institute is paying particular attention to the effects on conflict resolution, peace processes and agreements, as well as key variables to watch going forward. While the situation is evolving quickly, a number of recommendations are emerging for European and international actors who in these incredible times are striving to take issues of peace and conflict seriously.

The countries being covered in this series include Colombia, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine, Syria, Ukraine.