Asia- pacific migrants at higher risk of Covid 19 pandemic

Ukraine War, Conflict, Climate Adds More to Displacement

The migrants in Asia- Pacific region have a heightened risk because of covid 19 pandemic and its socio-economic fallout, according to a recent UN report.

These migrants are likely to be exposed to the virus, stranded in countries without work, lack access to health care and other essential services, said the report “Asia-Pacific Migration Report 2020”.

Apart from these, the report says that migrant remittances also declined due to the pandemic. This had led many households without a major source of income.

ESCAP, ILO, IOM and OHCHR, with inputs from UNAIDS, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UN-Habitat, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNODC, UN-Women and WFP drafted the report.

The report said that international migrants in the region increased from almost 52 million in 1990 to 65 million in 2019. The UN report stated that international migration from, to and between the countries in Asia and Pacific increased over the past 30 years.

The male and female migrant percentage in the region is roughly balanced at 51 and 49 per cent, the UN said. It also said that about 107 million people from Asia Pacific countries lived outside their countries of birth in 2019. This came to around 40 per cent of the world’s migrants.

The UN report pointed out that bulk of migration was intraregional. Almost 46 million migrants from the region moved to other countries in the same region in 2019. About 61.0 million migrants from the region moved outside the region in 2019 when compared to 26.7 million migrants in 1990. North America, Middle East and Europe are the main destinations outside the region.

Majority of the migration is for labour, the report said and added that most of the migration was to the Middle East. Apart from this, people in the region also migrated for education, permanent settlement, family formation and even retirement life. They had also migrated because of armed conflict, disasters and environmental change.

The report also notes that the number of refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless persons and asylum seekers in the region remained high. It said that over 7.8 million refugees and people in refugee like situations were present in Asia-Pacific countries. This represented 38 per cent of the global refugee population.

“Today, the number of international migrants, to, from and within the region, is at an all-time high. Safe, orderly and regular migration can reduce the vulnerability of migrants and societies to the negative impacts of COVID-19 and future pandemics and help build back better, more resilient communities,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.

The UN Report said that Covid 19 would continue to have an impact on migrating people. The inclusion of migrants in vaccination programmes would ne critical, it said.

The Report presents the first comprehensive assessment of the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration in the region. It provides a baseline assessment of achievements, gaps, lessons learned and remaining challenges to guide action to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration, for the benefit of all in the region.


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