This Joint Evaluation of the Protection of the Fundamental Rights of Refugees during the COVID-19 Pandemic was commissioned under the auspices of the COVID-19 Global Evaluation Coalition.
The evaluation examines the effectiveness of international co-operation and
the combined response of host states, United Nations (UN) system agencies, and non-governmental and civil society organisations including refugee-led organisations (RLOs) in ensuring the protection of the rights of refugees during the global pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the protection of the rights of refugees in a way that is profound and with possible lasting consequences.
Border closures and other movement restrictions related to the pandemic had significant and ongoing reprecussions for refugee rights and for protection actors. There is clear evidence that some states used the pandemic as a purported justification to introduce restrictive measures detrimental to the rights of refugees.
In some cases, restrictive practices adopted at the height of the pandemic for public health reasons have been retained or reinforced as security measures.
A complex pattern of access challenges remained across the spectrum of refugees’ rights and needs throughout the pandemic. Gender-based violence (GBV) against women and girls has increased, which has also exacerbated protection risks to refugee children. Rising xenophobia and discrimination increased the challenges for people on the move to access a large range of protection services.
The findings of this evaluation demonstrate the extraordinary efforts of protection actors in support of refugee rights in the face of an unprecedented global challenge. Overall, however, these collective interventions did not fully ensure the protection of the rights of refugees in a comprehensive and consistent manner.
This evaluation draws out lessons and recommendations for the future based on our findings.
The evaluation was carried out from May 2021 to January 2022 as the pandemic continued to evolve and present a constantly changing set of consequences for legal systems, social norms and the functioning of aid systems that are designed to offer support to the upholding of refugee rights. The evaluation was undertaken completely remotely and with layered evaluations methods (data analysis, document review, funding analysis and key informant interviews) to gather a balanced set of evidence.