COVID-19 pandemic is worsening the plight of millions of migrants, finds UN study
The global COVID-19 pandemic is making life much harder for millions of migrants and is expected to increase their number, two United Nations agencies said in a report published jointly on Tuesday.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has driven up food insecurity and increased vulnerability - among migrants, families reliant on remittances, and communities forced from their homes by conflict, violence and disasters. In a report released today, the International Organization for Migration and the World Food Programme warn the social and economic toll of the pandemic could be devastating on the lives of millions”, IOM spokesperson Angela Wells told a regular briefing of journalists in Geneva.
“The impact COVID-19 has had on the ways people move is unprecedented and issues of food and security have been closely interlinked. We are particularly concerned about the reality facing the more than 2.75 million migrants stranded on their journeys around the world. Many are now unable to return to their places of work, their communities, or their countries of origin. Stranded in precarious situations, many are reliant on humanitarian agencies for food support.”
Hunger and forced migration go together, she said, with nine out of the 10 worst food crises occurring in countries which also had the largest numbers of internally displaced persons. Obstacles to migration would only make things harder.
“More than 94,000 travel restrictions in over 220 countries, territories or areas, put in place to contain the spread of the disease, have limited opportunities for people to move, work and afford food and other basic needs. Without sustained income, the report warns that many will be pushed to return home, which will cause a significant drop in remittances, which we estimate provide an essential lifeline for around 800 million, or one in nine people in the world”, Ms. Wells said.
WFP spokesperson Tomson Phiri said the pandemic had hit after four consecutive years of rising hunger, caused by conflict, climate-related shocks and economic crisis.
“Now, the World Food Programme projects that the number of acutely food insecure people in 79 countries where we operate and where this analysis was done could increase by 80% from 149 million before COVID-19 hit to about 270 million by the end of this year, 2020”, Mr. Phiri said.
“Nearly 3 million migrants have been stranded by coronavirus travel restrictions, unable to travel back either to communities, unable to travel back to their places of work.”