Whose Needs? Reflections on Health Information and Minorities

On 1 April, the Norwegian News Agency (NTB) reported that rates of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection among Norwegian-Somalis were significantly higher than among other foreign-born inhabitants of Norway. Hospitals are reporting that 30–40 percent of patients who test positive for the virus are from immigrant backgrounds. The government has now granted NOK 6.6 million to boost efforts by voluntary organizations to disseminate health information among Norway’s immigrant population.

Illustration: Indigo Trigg-Hauger / PRIO

The funding was granted in response to criticism of official communications about how the virus is transmitted, symptoms and government-imposed restrictions: In the Norwegian daily newspaper Vårt Land, Loveleen Brenna stated that

“[the communications] use foreign words , bureaucratic language, and the message doesn’t get through. In addition, there are references to official bodies and institutions that many people aren’t familiar with”.

Following the funding announcement, questions have been asked about the choice of recipient organizations, bearing in mind their influence in Norwegian-Somali communities, among other things.

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“We are all fragile, but we are not all equally fragile”: Humanitarian operations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Prachatai via Flickr

As the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading across the globe, its impact touches all corners of society. What happens when the pandemic reaches areas that were already dealing with various sorts of humanitarian challenges, and in what ways are humanitarian operations being impacted both directly and indirectly? In a time where the news are being flooded with information related to the pandemic and much of national authorities’ time and resources are being spent at mapping domestic repercussions, this post is an attempt to highlight some of the potential impacts COVID-19 can have or is already having on humanitarian operations around the world.Read More

Migrants and COVID-19 in Norway: Five Reflections on Skewed Impacts

As the coronavirus pandemic develops from day to day in Norway’s epicenter and capital city of Oslo, it seems at present that Oslo’s eastern neighborhoods with large immigrant populations may be worse hit than other neighbourhoods, and that some migrant groups appear to be especially exposed. Much is uncertain both about why this pattern is emerging, and whether it will continue. While it is way too early to conclude, we offer reflections on five possible explanations and pose five questions which remain to be addressed in this context.

Illustration: Indigo Trigg-Hauger

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COVID-19 in Conflict-Torn Mali

Coronavirus has killed thousands of people, traumatised the global economy, and has huge impacts on people’s everyday life due to government restrictions in an attempt to flatten the curve. But what impact can COVID-19 have when reaching states with weak governing capacity, limited health care services, and with high levels of extremist violence? In this blog post I envisage potential impacts of COVID-19 in Mali, including difficulty executing government restrictions on social distancing, problems accurately estimating the COVID-19 impact on the population, and a continuation of extremist violence in Mali, albeit with some alterations.

A street in Mali. Photo: Marie Sandnes

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Norway and Sweden: Battling Coronavirus in Two Different Worlds

There is no doubt that the coronavirus already has and will continue to put the whole world in a very challenging position. No one knows how to battle the virus nor its implications on the world’s health systems and economies. What is clear, however, is that Sweden is relatively alone in its approach to manage this ongoing crisis, at least in terms of control over the spread of the virus in the population.

Illustration: Indigo Trigg-Hauger. Photo: saamiblog via Flickr

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Kosovo-Serbia Agreement: Why is the Trump Administration Fast-Tracking a Hasty Deal?

Contrary to recent headlines, an internal crisis over the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was not the cause behind the toppling of Kosovo’s government Wednesday evening. The crisis was only the trigger for the inevitable result of the recent pressure campaign against the small state by the Trump administration, which aims at securing a deal between Kosovo and Serbia this year.

Albin Kurti at a protest in 2013. AgronBeqiri via Wikimedia Commons.

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How Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Reshape Refugee and Migration Governance?

This blog post identifies marginalization, legal distancing and the ambiguity of care as the key characteristics of the COVID-19 pandemic response currently reshaping refugee and migration governance.

Moria Camp in 2017. Photo: Cathsign via Wikimedia Commons


Almost three months into the COVID-19 outbreak, the impact is becoming clear: the pandemic will reshape the governance of international migration and forced displacement. This piece provides some early reflections on the direct and indirect consequences and possible post-pandemic trajectories. The geographical examples are selective, but we hope, illustrative. While responses so far vacillate between care and control, with an emphasis on care for domestic populations and control of migrant movement and interaction, there is likely to be a long-term impact of the proliferation and routinization of extraordinary practices.

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