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Mixed Migration Centre: COVID-19 global update #2 - Impact of COVID-19 on refugees and migrants

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This is the second update on the situation for refugees and migrants on mixed migration routes around the world in light of the COVID-19 pandemic based on data collected by MMC in North Africa, West Africa and Latin America. The objective of the global updates is to provide regular up-to-date findings on COVID-19 awareness, knowledge and risk perception, access to information, access to healthcare, assistance needs and the impact on refugees’ and migrants’ lives and migration journeys.

Published once every two weeks, this series provides an aggregated overview; more detailed, thematic and response-oriented COVID-19 snapshots are also developed in each of the MMC regional offices and available here:

Key messages

• Interviewed refugees and migrants across all three regions are well aware of the coronavirus. A large majority considers they know how to protect themselves and others, though this proportion is lower among respondents in West Africa (81%), and particularly Burkina Faso (75%), than in Latin America (98%) and North Africa (85%)

• Protective measures taken by refugees and migrants vary widely across regions. Staying at home and isolating from others is much more frequent in Latin America (89%) than in North Africa (57%) and West Africa (11%). Similarly, in Latin America 90% of respondents think they can keep 1.5 metre distance from others, while in North Africa (47%) and West Africa (34%) these percentages are much lower.

• Sources of information on coronavirus for interviewed refugees and migrants differ between regions. In Latin America the main source is the national government (70%), in West Africa other migrants (65%) and in North Africa the online community (55%).

• Across regions only 42% of respondents believe they would be able to access healthcare if they had coronavirus symptoms. The barriers to accessing healthcare vary widely: discrimination against foreigners is the most important barrier in North Africa (44%), while it is far less often mentioned in West Africa (8%). Lack of legal documentation is an important barrier in Latin America (49%), while seldom reported in West Africa (6%). Lack of money is an important barrier across all three regions, particularly in West Africa (47%).

• Across regions, 86% of respondents stated that they are in need of extra help since the COVID-19 crisis began, but only 21% have received additional assistance, with a minimum of 7% in Libya. Specific needs differ across regions but cash and basic needs such as food, water and shelter are most commonly cited.

• The extent to which the increased difficulty of crossing borders affects refugees and migrants clearly differs across the three regions (19% in Latin America, 31% in North Africa and 65% in West Africa). This suggests that respondents in West Africa are the most mobile and are generally still in transit, but are now stuck.