Study on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on refugees

Data & research

Study on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on refugees

The project in brief

Implemented by

High Commissioner for Planning - Morocco

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – Morocco




01 June 2020 - 22 September 2020


The High Commissioner for Planning (HCP) conducted a survey-based study on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on refugees living in Morocco. The research analysed how the pandemic has affected the psychological and socioeconomic conditions of refugees especially during the confinement measures undertaken by the state. The HCP mobilised a team of academicians and researches to undertake the survey, analyse data and draft a final report based on quantitative inferences. The project was fully funded by the HCP, whereas UNHCR acted as facilitator in ensuring meetings and interviews between refugees and the HCP researches are held in the best conditions. The final report was released on the 22ed of September 2020 on the HCP’s website. It enjoyed a large national media coverage where key findings of the report were highlighted on media reports and which shed light on the socioeconomic conditions of refugees.

Project aims 

  • Quantifying data of socioeconomic impact of COVID19 on refugees.
  • Informing programmatic processes of activity prioritisation
  • Explaining realities of socioeconomic conditions of refugees during confinement.
  • Deconstructing stereotypes about refugees and highlighting 
  • Highlighting key messages and key figures and making them accessible to the public.
  • Shedding light on the life of refugees as a tool of sensitising the public on the scope and scale of refugee issues.

Resources used 

  • All institutions wishing to contribute to the socioeconomic integration of refugees in Morocco act within the framework of the National Policy of Immigration and Asylum (NPIA) launched in Sep 2013. It remains the main political framework of immigration and asylum governance in Morocco.
  • The HCP is an independent state institution with an independent budget that streams directly from the annual state’s budget. The HCP has dedicated a fund from its annual budget to conduct the study on refugees.

Main activities of the Good Practice

A special comity of academicians and researchers working for the HCP was formed in the early stages of the project. Members were selected based on their knowledge of the International Asylum instruments, the National Asylum Policy and awareness on refugee issue overall. The comity met regularly with UNHCR to conceptualise the project. Details of data collection instruments were agreed upon, the survey and interviews questions were prepared, and the special scientific investigators were assigned. The second phase of the programme consisted of data collection.  Additionally, to available data in UNHCR’s data base, several literatures about asylum were compiled by the researchers and the sampled population of refugees undergone a series of interviews and questionnaires. UNHCR’s programme team was responsible for ensuring overall coordination, ethical conformity, data protection, verification and validation. Ethical considerations undertaken by protection team included the refugee identity protection, consent to interviewing and sharing of data. The third phase consisted of data analyses and drawing inferences then a draft of final report was shared amongst all parties involved for final remarks. Once the draft went through a thorough verification and validation process it was released on the 22cd of September 2020.  A joint press release has followed to inform the public on the findings of the study. Part of the HCP’s practices was to release hard copies of the report which were distributed to all national institutions including, ministries, constitutional intuitions and all other policy makers. Regular coordination and updates between HCP and UNHCR Morocco were ensured throughout the project which contributed to its success.  


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Challenges and how they were overcome


The main challenge that encountered us was the fact that the research was conducted during the measures of national confinement induced by the COVID19 situation. Mobility of researchers was restricted as that of refugees too. Reaching out physically to interview refugees was not feasible.

How they were overcome

The HCP and UNHCR have jointly agreed on a research protocol of data collection that is based on phone interviews. Measures of identity verification of interviewees were thoroughly thought and implemented carefully in the protocol.

Results of the Good Practice 

  • The public was informed of the particulars of the life of refugees in Morocco thanks to the large media exposure (over 60 news articles, TV and radio news journals). An improved public awareness will facilitate local integration.
  • Political was gained as the HCP is the highest authority of statistics in Morocco and the most reliable source of data.
  • Key policy makers are sensitised to the urgency of action which significantly contributes to the process of advocacy for a national asylum law.
  • Economic actors are sensitised to the urgency of action for an effective socioeconomic integration of refugees.

How the project meets the GCR Objectives

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

The pressure on Morocco as a host country stems mainly from a fear that public debate on refugees and migrants may become salient and protectionists maybe against a liberal migration policy. The published study attracted wide media interest and drew approval of policy makers. It contributed to raising awareness and contribute to informing policy makers of the benefits of an effective refugee’s socioeconomic integration policy.  

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

The study of the socioeconomic impact of COVID19 on refugees is contributing directly to this objective as it helped identifying the needs of the refugee community for a better response and more informed decision making in programmatic prioritisation.

Whereas the HCP is the most reliable source of statistics in the country, the media professionals were more inclined to publish the findings of the report. This has contributed to informing policy makers and the public of the socioeconomic conditions of refugees in Morocco.

Next steps 

This cooperation between UNHCR Morocco and the High Commissioner for Planning will be extended to signing a MoU for a multiyear partnership agreement. Amongst the objectives of the MoU is to facilitate more reports and studies beyond the COVID19 context. Thematic areas will be investigated further in the future such as, gender approach for socioeconomic inclusion, education and public policy, health and other relevant areas of study.