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Trends in the impact of COVID-19 on refugees and migrants in Guatemala and Mexico

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This snapshot offers an analysis on how the impact of the COVID-19 crisis among refugees and migrants in Guatemala and Mexico has changed between July and November of 2020. It is based on 4Mi interviews with refugees and migrants and a few key informant interviews in Guatemala City and Tapachula. It aims to contribute towards a solid evidence base to inform targeted responses on the ground, as well as advocacy efforts related to the situation of refugees and migrants during the coronavirus pandemic. This analysis is based on 644 surveys implemented between July 13th and November 29th, 2020, in Guatemala and Mexico, partially by face-to-face interviews and partially remotely, by phone.

Key findings

  • Data shows a strong increase in racism and/or xenophobia against refugees and migrants due to the pandemic: almost half of respondents (45%) reported it in November, up from only 15% in July.

  • The view that it is more difficult to move within countries due to the pandemic remained relatively stable at about 25%-30% between July and October. Respondents who reported increased difficulties crossing borders decreased from 21% in July to 8% in September, but then went up again to 25% in November.

  • The loss of income led to an increase in debts and rent arrears among refugees and migrants: this went from being reported by 21% of respondents who lost income in July to more than half (54%) in November.

  • Despite this, optimism regarding the outlook of the pandemic increased over time, as those who believed that things were getting better went from 4% of respondents in July to 42% of respondents in November.