The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the world, and particularly on global health and mobility, is unprecedented in size and scope. As of 27 December 2020, there have been over 79.2 million confirmed infections with SARS-CoV-2 worldwide, and over 1.7 million people have lost their lives, according to the WHO1. In addition to the significant toll on human health and well-being, the pandemic has become a crisis for migration, human mobility, and displacement. The repercussions of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods continue to mount, making it clear that the world will experience its effects for years to come.
Migrants, displaced populations, and communities have been especially vulnerable to the pandemic’s consequences. Individuals living in crowded conditions, as well as camps or camp-like settings, have further faced an increased risk of infection, both from COVID-19 and other health threats. There is ample evidence that the pandemic has exacerbated many of the existing vulnerabilities faced by migrants and other people on the move, including their level of exposure to disease and mental health challenges and experiences of discrimination and stigma. In many cases, mobility-related policies and lockdown measures taken to reduce the transmission of the virus have created significant additional challenges for these populations, including the loss of income, livelihood opportunities, and remittances, the risk of becoming stranded, decreased access to essential services, higher risk of exposure to gender-based violence (GBV), and a reduced ability to seek refuge, among others. Further, the additional challenges and difficulties that migrant women and girls have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic have also required a gendered approach in the response to ensure that policies have the specific needs of women and girls in mind.
COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated how the exclusion of migrants, displaced populations, and communities has negative impacts for not only migrants and the displaced themselves, but also for societies as a whole. The pandemic has further highlighted the importance of not leaving anyone behind in global health and social protection policies, which includes vaccination efforts. No one is safe until everyone is safe.
IOM’s Response in 2020
Prior to the WHO’s official declaration of the pandemic on 11 March 2020, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had already rapidly re-purposed existing programmes and launched a global, multi-sectoral response to COVID-19. In close coordination with governments, other United Nations (UN) agencies, the private sector, communities, and implementing partners, IOM quickly scaled up to address the needs of migrants, displaced populations, and communities, anchoring the Organization’s response in its comprehensive understanding of population mobility and its cross-sectoral expertise. IOM swiftly adapted its programming in accordance with the latest guidelines to help control the spread of COVID-19, integrating COVID-19 considerations such as bolstering Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) efforts, procuring and distributing supplies including personal protective equipment (PPE), and ramping up health promotion and risk communication efforts.
IOM’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP), first launched in February 2020 and subsequently updated to reflect changing operational realities and needs on the ground, appealed for USD 618.9 million across 140 countries to facilitate a more strategic and targeted approach to the pandemic response2. The SPRP focused on four strategic priorities at the community, national, and regional levels: effective coordination and partnerships, preparedness and response measures for reduced morbidity and mortality, efforts to ensure affected people have access to basic services and commodities (including health care, protection, and social services), and mitigating the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19. These four key strategic priorities were further divided into key pillars to guide IOM’s programming.
Aim of Report
This report provides an overview of IOM’s COVID-19 response with selected achievements in 2020, summarizing the Organization’s COVID-19-related work at the global, regional, and national levels, and its impact in the communities it serves. The report is structured around the 14 pillars from IOM’s 2020 SPRP, demonstrating the breadth and scope of IOM’s response, as well as the Organization’s key achievements, through data collected across these key areas of programming.
The report reflects upon IOM’s critical partnerships with Member States, the UN system, communities, and organizations, the implementation of results and evidence-based programming, and the ways that innovation and support for migrant-inclusive policy development contributed to the Organization’s robust multi-sectoral operations. It notes the cooperation, approaches, and programmatic adaptations that facilitated IOM’s provision of critical services for migrants, displaced populations, and communities in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic’s acute phase.
The lessons that IOM learned from its scale-up and response to this global emergency are reflected in this report and have proven valuable as the Organization transitions towards an approach with a greater emphasis on recovery and future preparedness, while still responding to acute needs. IOM’s experience to date will inform the 2021 SRRP’s implementation to strengthen economic, social, and health-care system resilience and preparedness, while supporting the recovery from the pandemic
- International Organization for Migration
- Copyright © IOM. All rights reserved.