From the outset, the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world elicited fears of a possible “double threat”— a severe health crisis coupled with an increase in violence for civilians living in fragile and conflict-affected states. Now, nearly two years into the crisis at the time this report is published, it is clear there is no universal experience across conflict zones. That being said, the pandemic continues to heighten the risk of civilian harm in a number of contexts.
CIVIC’s report, “Fighting for Our Lives: COVID-19 and the Protection of Civilians in Conflict-Affected States”, looks into how COVID-19 has impacted civilian protection around the globe. Through interviews with stakeholders from Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Nigeria, and other conflict contexts, this report assesses the impact the pandemic has had on civilian harm – providing an extensive analysis of not only the direct impact of COVID-19 on civilian harm, but also the indirect harm caused by the disruption and suspension of existing protection activities and programs. The report also highlights how locally-led solutions and community-based protection to respond to existing and additional challenges created by the pandemic proved essential to fill the gaps.
This report shares good practices and lessons learned in conflict countries affected by the pandemic, and offers recommendations for local security forces, governments, international institutions, and civil society organizations to better protect civilians facing such a combination of threats.