Locked Down and Left Out? Why Access to Basic Services for Migrants is Critical to our COVID-19 Response and Recovery

Publication language
Date published
18 Mar 2021
Research, reports and studies
Multi-sector/cross-sector, Development & humanitarian aid, COVID-19, Epidemics & pandemics, Forced displacement and migration, Host Communities, Internal Displacement, Governance, Protection, human rights & security, Social protection

This report was prepared by the newly established Red Cross Red Crescent (RCRC) Global Migration Lab and draws on research conducted by eight National RCRC Societies (National Societies) from Australia, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Sudan, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It provides evidence of the direct and indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and related policy measures on migrants’ access to basic services, including vaccines. As a global humanitarian network with a presence in 192 countries, the International RCRC Movement (the Movement) approaches migration from a purely humanitarian perspective.

While pandemic-related policy measures have also affected broader communities, the evidence confirms migrants have experienced disproportionate impacts due to vulnerabilities associated with barriers to support and the circumstances of their journeys. Migrants are also at risk of heightened stigma and discrimination and being left behind in the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines, generating individual and public health concerns.
The report welcomes the measures taken by some governments to mitigate the impacts of the virus and facilitate access to basic services for migrants - such as relaxations in visa compliance or flexibility in residency permit renewals and inclusion of migrants in free COVID-19 testing and treatment.

However, emergency responses for migrants, particularly undocumented migrants and those with temporary status, have tended to be inconsistent with pandemic support measures put in place for nationals or permanent residents.

Migrants have frequently been excluded from socio-economic support policies, despite playing key roles in response and recovery efforts, being over-represented in employment sectors hard-hit by the pandemic and being impacted by the same prevention and control measures as host communities.
Indeed, COVID-19 has further exposed systemic barriers and underlying inequalities in access to basic services for migrants and has widened support gaps, with increasing concerns as to whether countries will include all migrants, irrespective of legal status, in COVID-19 vaccination policies and roll-out strategies.