Considering the COVID-19 global public health crisis, this paper examines the socio-cultural, economic and psychosocial impact of the pandemic on urban refugees in Uganda. We analyse the living conditions of urban refugees that make it problematic for them to adhere to public health measures. Since COVID-19 is perceived as “imported”, refugees are assumed as its potential transmitters, consequently experiencing heightened stigma and isolation. Lack of culturally and linguistically accessible information and services excludes them from on-going efforts to prevent the pandemic. The lockdown has affected refugee livelihoods and increased income insecurity, sexual and gender-based violence and anxiety. Given the paucity of government-led services to contain the epidemic, we argue that contingency planning must involve refugees and their communities to access accurate and relevant information in appropriate languages. It is also important to build the capacity of frontline workers to understand the specific needs of refugees to deliver appropriate protection in the context of the pandemic.
- social protection
- violence against women