How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected armed conflict and political violence within countries? Focusing on Africa, a continent with a particularly high number of ongoing conflicts, this policy brief analyses the immediate and long-term implications of the pandemic on conflict and reflects on its implications for international peacebuilding efforts.
In the short term, conflict patterns on the continent are marked more by a continuation of previous trends than by a strong direct impact of COVID-19. Regarding armed confrontations, there was a rise in conflict intensity in some countries and one new war erupted in the Tigray region of Ethiopia in November 2020. As to lower-scale political violence, especially in the beginning of the pandemic, many states used excessive state violence against civilians when enforcing Corona measures.
Perhaps more important than the immediate effect of the pandemic, the consequences of the pandemic are very likely to accelerate violent conflict in the medium to long term. This is firstly because the pandemic exacerbates structural weaknesses, including the sharpening of societal divisions, severe disruptions in the education sector and deteriorating socio-economic circumstances. Secondly, the pandemic has curtailed actors and institutions that might be able to reduce the risk of violent escalation. Trust in the state and security institutions has suffered in many countries due to dissatisfaction with the handling of the pandemic. Moreover, democratic processes are hampered by the postponement of elections and increasing levels of government repression. At the same time, international peace support is negatively affected by social distancing and further threatened by looming cuts of commitments in official development assistance.
Read the full brief paper here.
This publication first appeared on the DIE site.
Authors: Dr Charlotte Fiedler (DIE), Dr Karina Mross (DIE), Dr Yonas Adaye Adeto (African Security Governance and Peacebuilding Addis Ababa University).
Photo courtesy of EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid via Flickr.
The views are those of the authors and not necessarily those of ETTG.