Migrants and the COVID-19 pandemic: An initial analysis

Thematic Area
Operations and emergencies

COVID-19 has emerged in a world tightly connected by local and international population movements, with more people moving for work, education and family reasons, tourism and survival than ever in the past (Skeldon, 2018). Intense population movements, in particular of tourists and business workers, have been a key driver of the global spread of the outbreak (Hodcroft et al., 2020 and 2018). The pandemic cannot as such be attributed to migration (Banulescu-Bogdan et al., 2020).

At the same time, the presence and movements of migrants are fundamental demographic, social, cultural and economic dynamics shaping the local contexts that the pandemic is affecting. For societies and communities all around the world, accounting (or not) for migrants in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts will affect the crisis’ trajectories. Inclusive public health efforts will be crucial to effectively contain and mitigate the outbreak, reduce the overall number of people affected, and shorten the emergency situation (Berger et al., 2020). Mitigating the economic, social and psychological impacts of the outbreak (as well as relevant response measures) on all affected persons will allow for swifter recovery.

This paper analyzes the specific ways migrants have been affected by the pandemic and presents a diversity of measures adopted in migrants’ host and home countries to prevent, mitigate and address its negative impacts. By doing so, it aims to provide insights for more inclusive and effective COVID-19 policies and operations.