COVID- 19 and its Effects on Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant Children Aged 12-17 Years at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Zimbabwe

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Memory Rumbidzai V. Mandikiana
Yogesh Awasthi
Isaac Ignatius Dambudzo


Refugee, asylum seekers, and migrant (displaced) children are at protracted vulnerability levels, and COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation. Zimbabwe accepts refugees but enforces an encampment policy, and displaced populations are encamped at Tongogara Refugee Camp (TRC).  The research gap is that there is very little literature on refugees in Zimbabwe. The research objectives for the study were to explore the challenges that refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced children at TRC face, ascertain how COVID-19 has affected children at TRC, and propose solutions to these challenges. This research relied upon a mixed method of quantitative and qualitative approach considering the immediacy of the COVID-19 pandemic. Secondary data is referred from published articles and organizational reports. The population size of 2,304 children aged 12 to 17 was obtained through the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR)’s January 2021 population statistics for TRC. A 10% sample of 230 respondents was selected. Non-probability sampling techniques were used in administering a questionnaire through individual and focus group interviews, which were fed into KoBo Toolbox. Data cleaning and analysis were conducted, with SPSS and NViVo for quantitative and qualitative data analysis, respectively.  Ethical considerations of consent, confidentiality, do no harm, and statements to withdraw from the study were employed. The process involved strict observance of World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on COVID-19. The research was conducted between April 2020 and February 2021. Results showed that displaced children suffered a spectrum of challenges before COVID-19. During the COVID-19 period, respondents had limited access to child protection services, experienced increased conflicts at home, and limited access to formal learning and entertainment: their already dire situation was exacerbated by COVID-19. The study recommends the upgrade of the local secondary school to advanced level status, adoption of educational innovations in lieu of the COVID-19 pandemic, including radio, television, and virtual learning platforms; improved child protection mechanisms; accommodation; dietary diversity; access to water and sanitation hygiene; provision of electricity; adequate street lighting; activities for entertainment; and increasing awareness against child abuse and gender-based violence (GBV).


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Memory Rumbidzai V. Mandikiana, Yogesh Awasthi, & Isaac Ignatius Dambudzo. (2021). COVID- 19 and its Effects on Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant Children Aged 12-17 Years at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Zimbabwe. PanAfrican Journal of Governance and Development (PJGD), 2(2), 170-205.
Author Biographies

Memory Rumbidzai V. Mandikiana, Africa University, Mutare, Zimbabwe, Africa.

Memory Rumbidzai V. Mandikiana is a Ph.D. candidate in Peace, Leadership, and Governance at the Africa University in Zimbabwe. She has studied at the Zimbabwe Open University and the University of Zimbabwe for her Master’s and Bachelors’ degrees respectively. Memory is a seasoned humanitarian and development practitioner with a passion for advocacy for the rights of marginalized people in society. She uses research to bring to light thematic areas that affect society at the grassroots level. She is an active member of the Leaders of Africa Institute.  

Yogesh Awasthi, Africa University, Mutare, Zimbabwe, Africa.

Dr. Awasthi has joined the Africa University as Chair of Educational Technologies in the College of Business, Peace, Leadership, and Governance (CBPLG). He has published 25 papers on Artificial Intelligence, Watermarking Techniques, and Cloud Computing. Presently, he has written a book entitled ‘Let’s play with JAVA’. He is a member of the Computer Society in India, the International Association of Engineers (Hong Kong), and the Editorial Board of peer-reviewed journals. He has guided over 50 and Graduate projects.

Isaac Ignatius Dambudzo, Zimbabwe Open University, Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa.

Dr. Isaac Ignatius Dambudzo is a Professor and the Dean of Education at the Zimbabwe Open University. He has authored 3 books on Education, 52 research papers, and is a member of the Senate and other committees at the university. He is an expert in educational assessment, teaching, and learning, with over 40 years of experience. He is also an external examiner for universities in the SADC region.


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