Protests jump 45% across MENA region driven by Covid-19

The number of protests and riots in the Middle East and north Africa region (MENA) has jumped by 45% in the last year, from 19,677 to 28,458 incidents, according to new analysis.

Reinsurer Chaucer said its research showed that the increase in protests has been largely driven by the economic and social stresses caused by Covid-19.

For example, it cited the collapse in oil and gas prices during lockdown as a contributing factor to an increased number of protests in several economies in the region that are dependent on oil and gas revenues. In April 2020, prices reached a low of $25 a barrel.

In north Africa, there was a 39% rise in protests and riots: Algeria saw an increase of 11%, from 2,250 to 2,490; South Sudan incidents increased from 608 to 844; and Tunisia saw incidents double from 989 to 1,986, with protests over the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis largely driving the increase.

In the Middle East in the last year, Lebanon alone experienced 2,695 incidences of unrest.

The growth of unrest in the region has led to damage to property caused by protests, said Chaucer, which warned that some businesses’ general insurance policies may exclude this kind of damage, while other businesses may have experienced difficulty in obtaining cover for protest and riot damage.

It has found companies are turning to specialist strikes, riots and civil commotion (SRCC) cover, which explicitly insures against damage from this type of event. Businesses including banks, retailers and real estate funds in higher-risk locations are able to use SRCC insurance to plug any gaps in their existing cover relating to civil unrest.

Fawzi Omari, senior executive officer at Chaucer’s Dubai office, said: “The economic shock of the pandemic has been felt especially hard in certain parts of the MENA region. We are working closely with our clients to ensure they have the right coverage to protect their assets.

“Since the global financial crisis, SRCC has been growing as separate area of insurance to help deal with the trend for general property insurance policies to exclude the risk. It looks like Covid-19 is going to accelerate that process. Otherwise, rising unrest could leave businesses that lack the right insurance exposed.”

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