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Seasonal migration in Europe and Central Asia in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

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KEY MESSAGES

  • Two of the world’s top ten remittance-receiving countries relative to gross domestic product are in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region – Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Inward remittances to ECA are estimated to fall by 8 percent in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Ratha et al., 2020).

  • Labour migration from Central Asian countries to the Russian Federation and other countries forms the largest migration corridor in Eurasia (FAO, 2018).

  • Mobility restrictions introduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic have prevented seasonal agricultural workers from travelling and earning incomes abroad, with consequences ranging from declines in remittances, affected livelihoods, exacerbated household food insecurity, and hindered access to healthy diets (IOM, 2021).

  • The decline in remittances will have a knock-on effect on local economies and, most importantly, on the livelihoods of the families of migrant workers. This implies that many households dependent on remittances will need to reduce their expenditures, with negative implications for food and nutrition security.

  • Reduced mobility due to COVID-19 restrictions prevented migrant workers from leaving their areas of origin, resulting in the creation of an abundance of labour supply and the rise of unemployment.