Coronavirus and Armed Groups
Unsurprisingly, many armed factions have utilized the virus to further entrench their authority and support their beliefs. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, violence linked to MS13, Barrio18, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and HTS had displaced millions] of people and limited the flow of vital humanitarian assistance to populations in need. But the threat of the coronavirus has compounded these realities. Now, more than ever, there is an urgent need to halt conflict and focus attention on combating the virus, which is a global enemy.
The coronavirus pandemic requires coordinated and comprehensive efforts but the ineffective responses of armed groups will continue to be detrimental to civilians. The governments and armed groups should work towards halting hostilities during the pandemic and grant access to crucial healthcare and humanitarian aid during this unprecedented time. Violent non-state actors are not above international humanitarian law If violence continues to increase and groups continue to use the virus as an opportunity for exploitation, then the severity of this pandemic will only worsen and long-term consequences will be increasingly difficult to address.
Alexandra Lamarche is the senior advocate for West and Central Advocate at Refugees International. Follow her on twitter @AlyLamb
Arden Bentley is the program assistant at Refugees International. Follow her on twitter @ardenzbentley
Rachel Schmidtke is the advocate for Latin America at Refugees International. Follow her on twitter @ r_schmidtke
Sahar Atrache is the senior advocate for the Middle East at Refugees International. Follow her on twitter @ SaharAtrache