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The Virus and Violence

10 June, 2021 @ 2:00 pm 3:00 pm


Well into the second year of the deadliest pandemic in a century, a growing number of studies have sought to unpack the link between COVID-19 and conflict. However, those studies tend to either rely on anecdotal evidence, or they systematically focus on one outcome only: violence. Yet, we know that the effects of exogenous shocks like a pandemic on conflict can take time to develop and may not be reflected in immediate surges in violence. At least some of the causal mechanisms between COVID-19 and violent conflict, if they exist at all, are most likely indirect. Factors such as socio-economic marginalization, diminished state capacity, and an erosion of social cohesion potentially serve as key mediating factors that develop gradually or initially operate latently. In other words, we must consider the potential impact of the pandemic on conflict drivers and processes, not just outcomes such as violence.

To account for the possible effects of COVID-19 on overall conflict dynamics, Mercy Corps has led research using a systems-level approach in three conflict-affected countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, and Nigeria. A more holistic assessment of the pandemic’s impact thus far will help to not only anticipate changes in conflict dynamics and identify leverage points for humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding interventions, but also flag vulnerabilities for further disease spread and the factors that help and hinder public health responses, including vaccination campaigns.

In an online webinar hosted by the Knowledge Platform for Security and Rule of Law, two of Mercy Corps researchers who led this study will present its findings, as well as discuss its implications for future policy and programming.


  • Gabrielle Aron, Research Project Lead, Mercy Corps
  • Sheilla Uzor Onasanya, Strategic Learning Manager, Mercy Corps Nigeria
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) representative


Registration is mandatory to attend this event. Please register by clicking the button below. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach out to Messina Laurette Manirakiza at m.manirakiza@kpsrl.org or Sarah Casteran at scasteran@mercycorps.org.