Covid-19 and Urban Migrants in the Horn of Africa: Lived Citizenship and Everyday Humanitarianism

Volume 53 Number 2
Published: April 26, 2022

This article focuses on the everyday humanitarianism of migrant communities in three cities in the Horn of Africa: Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and Khartoum. It is framed around the concept of lived citizenship, defined as a means to secure wellbeing through everyday acts and practices. Based on an analysis of comparative interview data among Eritrean and Ethiopian migrant communities in each city, the article argues that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted lived citizenship practices to different degrees, linked to previous forms of precarity, and the means and networks of coping with those. Disruptions of transnational support networks resulted in a turn towards local networks and everyday practices of solidarity. These forms of everyday humanitarianism range from spontaneous to more organised forms, united by a perceived lack of involvement by international humanitarian actors and the local state. The article raises important questions in relation to transnational humanitarian action in a global crisis.

From Issue: Vol. 53 No. 2 (2022) | Humanitarianism and Covid-19: Structural Dilemmas, Fault Lines, and New Perspectives