Mobility is directly linked to the COVID19 pandemic in the region and globally. Migrants may be disproportionally vulnerable to COVID-19 transmission due to their living and working conditions and barriers and exclusion from health systems, public education and outreach. Migrants already are being severely impacted by movement restrictions and, increasingly, socio-economic impacts as a result of the pandemic.
As the number of COVID-19 cases increases across a growing number of countries in the Asia Pacific, IOM is extremely concerned about the impacts on migrants, refugees, IDPs, returnees and other vulnerable groups. The situation is rapidly evolving and expected to IOM Asia Pacific COVID-19 Sitrep IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific Sitrep 1, 19 March 2020 continue to worsen, especially for those who are excluded from or unable to access healthcare or to meaningfully follow prevention advice due to their precarious conditions. Migrants are also affected by stigma and discrimination and already suffering economic impacts through loss of work without social protection mechanisms in place. At the regional level, IOM has been closely coordinating with WHO (SEARO, WPRO, EMRO), OCHA, IFRC, UNHCR and other partners to advocate inclusion of migrants and mobile populations in national-, regional-and global-level response planning for COVID-19. IOM leads a Regional Thematic Working Group on Migrants and Refugees and COVID-19 along with UN and NGO partners and provides technical guidance to IOM missions at national level and for regional and global initiatives for migrant inclusion in COVID response. Key recent technical outputs include:
- Contributed to Interim Guidance on Scaling-up COVID-19 Outbreak in Readiness and Response Operations in Camps and Camp-like Settings (jointly developed by IFRC, IOM, UNHCR and WHO)
- Contributed to COVID-19: How to include marginalized and vulnerable people in risk communication and community engagement
- Establishment of Regional Thematic Working Group on Migrants and Refugees in COVID-19