COVID-19 Impact on stranded migrants


The impact of the COVID-19 emergency on global health and mobility is historically unprecedented in size and scope. Containment policies and measures to restrict global human mobility, which are aimed at mitigating the spread of the virus and its consequences, have affected various population categories, including migrants, in diverse and complex ways. The COVID-19 mobility policies and measures – spanning from various travel restrictions, health requirements and measures to full border closures and nation-wide and/or localized lockdowns – have, in some cases, created new challenges for migrants whilst in parallel exacerbated their existing vulnerabilities. The imposition of border closures and travel bans have left a significant number of migrants stranded, including seasonal workers, temporary residence holders, international students, migrants that travelled for medical treatment abroad, beneficiaries of Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR), seafarers and many others.

To better understand how the pandemic affects global mobility and migrants particularly, IOM has been monitoring COVID-19 related mobility restrictions imposed by countries, territories, and areas and its effect on different population categories, including migrants, under an initiative called Impact on Migrants. Given the unprecedented and highly dynamic situation, it is impossible to quantify the exact number of migrants who were, or are currently, stranded globally, and this paper does not aim to do so. Additionally, while the typology of emerging issues faced by migrants due to COVID-19 becomes clearer, though increasingly complex, the compilation of both official and unofficial data is considered a large underestimation of the number of migrants stranded or otherwise impacted by COVID-19.