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Social protection provisions to refugees during the Covid-19 pandemic: lessons learned from government and humanitarian responses

Working papers

Written by Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Nathalie Both

Image credit:EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid / Flickr Image license:CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This paper is part of a series: ‘Social protection response to Covid-19 and beyond: lessons learned for adaptive social protection’.

Refugees have been supported by innumerable cash or voucher interventions implemented by international humanitarian and development actors during the Covid-19 pandemic, but only a few of these have explicitly aligned or integrated with government social protection responses. Refugees residing in low- and middle-income countries have mostly been excluded from government social protection responses, and where they have been included (largely in Latin America and the Caribbean) this typically represents a continuation of pre-pandemic policy.

This paper reviews the evidence on:

  • the inclusion of refugees in government-led social protection responses to Covid-19 in the Republic of Congo and Colombia
  • the alignment or integration of international humanitarian and development actors’ cash assistance to refugees and government social protection responses – focusing on Jordan and Pakistan.

It considers the effectiveness of Covid-19 social protection responses for refugees, emerging lessons and whether the crisis and its response holds potential for a longer-term shift in social protection and humanitarian support to refugees.

Corrections and clarifications

Published online: 9 June 2021. Corrected online: 16 July 2021. Tweaks were made to pages 1, 12 and 21 to reflect that the Lisungi transfer in the Republic of Congo is targeted at the household level, not individual level.

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About the series

This research project examines social protection measures adopted since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, with the aims of promoting policy learning and helping ensure countries are better equipped with inclusive, adaptive and sustainable social protection systems moving forward. Read the additional papers in the series here.