Migration and the Coronavirus Pandemic Outbreak

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Migration has been an integral part of human survival since time without beginning. People migrate for reasons such as finding a new job, better economic opportunities, higher studies or to escape terrorism, to name a few. According to a recent report published by the UN, the total number of migrants worldwide reached 258 million in 2017. With people moving in such great numbers, migration can undoubtedly be termed as a phenomenon.

The benefits attached with migration are real and hence we see people moving from one place to another at such a fast pace.

For starters, people who are unhappy with a low salary in their home country, now look at countries abroad to improve their standard of living. The idea is not just to improve the way one lives, but also to give their family a better future, in terms of health and other opportunities.

According to The Lancet, there are about 150 million International Migrant Workers (IMW) around the world. Of these, around 95% of the workers live in WHO regions and their onslaught was on a consistent rise, until the world found itself in the grip of a pandemic called COVID-19. Migration has not just helped individuals but also governments in the form of remittances.

Currently, there are many governments across the globe, that are able to survive strict lockdown measures all thanks to remittances. About $466 billion were sent in the form of remittances to low and middle-income countries in the year 2017, according to IOM, UN Migration. 

International Migrant Workers (IMW) have always had their share of challenges in the host country: be it access to proper health services, low quality of life or even having to deal with depression at times.The situation has worsened with the spread of corona virus in almost all the countries.

IMWs are either being laid off or even worse, they are being sent to quarantine centers. With no source of income in a foreign land, these workers are fighting the toughest battle of their lives.With the borders closed and no possible means of transportation, these IMWs are at the mercy of their respective host countries. 

Well, the problem is not just inter-country, it’s also intra-country. A highly populous country like India, with close to 1.3 billion people, is not left behind in this chaos. There are 28 states in the country and each state has its fair share of migrants who came there looking for work and a better life. But the situation has drastically changed in the last 40 days.

All the states and union territories have been placed under a lockdown, in order to contain the spread of corona virus. This move in turn,has created an employment deficit in many industries, with no definite end in sight. Major manufacturing units, especially where these migrants once worked, have been non-operational for weeks now. Millions of migrant workers have already left to their hometown and many more intend to head back in the days to come. 

Dinesh Vaswani
Twitter handle : @dmostvalued

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