Building on the 2020 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, in 2021 IOM’s approach encompasses life-saving assistance and response to humanitarian needs, initiatives to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on migrants and societies, as well as support to recovery and resilience integrating longer-term sustainable development planning.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented global health, humanitarian, socioeconomic and human rights crisis. While the number of cases and deaths globally continue to increase, the containment measures enforced to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 – including travel restrictions - have in turn demonstrated the high human and economic costs related to restricted mobility, in particular on people on the move. As new SARS-CoV-2 variants spread across the globe, and entry and testing regulations and measures are evolving rapidly, they are often left behind. Whilst vaccination efforts are underway, public health systems in many places remain overstretched and unable to cope with the size and scope of the crisis. Barriers continue to exist in many countries for migrants, displaced populations and other vulnerable groups to access essential services, including COVID-19 vaccines.
One year into the pandemic, the mix of overlapping crises with a rise in extreme poverty, political instability, conflict, disasters and food insecurity have driven humanitarian needs to new levels and further intensified ongoing humanitarian crises that, if left unaddressed, will have long-term impacts on fragility, risks of displacement and human suffering. So far in 2021, an estimated 235 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, representing a staggering increase of 40 per cent compared to the 167.6 million people in need of life-saving assistance in early 2020. The over 80 million displaced – both internationally and internally – are among the worst-hit by the crisis and will remain so if immediate support is not provided.
Limitations to international and national mobility and trade are deepening the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic with job loss at alarming rates and increasing levels of inequalities and poverty, especially among the displaced, migrants and affected communities. With many migrants working in the informal sectors in low- and middle-income-countries, they are the first to be left out. Reduced remittances negatively impact economies and livelihoods, affecting already vulnerable communities and exacerbating risks. Hundreds of thousands of migrants remain stranded in transit. Others were forced to return to their home countries, unable to access employment due to lockdowns and other restrictions and struggling to provide for themselves and their families. The dangers associated with irregular migratory journeys have increased. Some of the 281 million international migrants are also at higher risk of infection due to the conditions of their movements, depending on their socioeconomic situation and are also more vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse as well as discrimination and stigma.
Yet, migration and human mobility can and should be part of the solution to deal with the crisis and recover better given migrants’ critical role in building healthy and striving societies. As articulated by the United Nations Secretary-General, people on the move must be a central feature of the response and recovery. Exclusion is costly in the long run whereas inclusion pays off for everyone.
- International Organization for Migration
- Copyright © IOM. All rights reserved.