A man from Ghana wearing a surgical mask walks through a market in Accra, Ghana on March 14, 2020 | Photo: EPA / Christian Thompson
A man from Ghana wearing a surgical mask walks through a market in Accra, Ghana on March 14, 2020 | Photo: EPA / Christian Thompson

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 2.75 million migrants have been stranded globally due to mobility restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an online statement from October 9, UN refugee agency IOM said that at least 2.75 million migrants have been stranded across the world due to restrictions on movement imposed by countries in the attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19.

IOM monitored limitations on global movement and their impact from March 1 to July 13. The 2.7 million, calculated on the basis of data collected in 382 locations in over 101 countries, is by far an underestimate, the IOM said.

The organization called for "effective international cooperation" to deal with the situation.

91,000 restrictions on movement globally

For the purposes of the report, stranded migrants are defined as individuals outside of their country of habitual residence who wish to return home but who are unable to do so due to mobility restrictions related to COVID-19.

The most recent IOM data reveals that some 220 countries, territories and areas have imposed over 91,000 movement restrictions.

As a result of these global containment measures, IOM has received hundreds of requests to assist nearly 115,000 stranded migrants to safely and voluntarily return home, the report stated.

"The scope and subsequent enforcement of tens of thousands of mobility restrictions including border closures and nation-wide lockdowns related to COVID-19 requires states to reach out to their neighbors and to migrants' countries of origin to address their needs and vulnerabilities," IOM Director-General Antonio Vitorino is quoted in the report.

''It should be clear that migrants can be returned home in a safe and dignified manner despite the constraints imposed by COVID-19," Vitorino added.

'We must move now'

IOM said that where governments have taken action, tens of thousands of migrants have been able to return home in a manner that takes into consideration the significant health challenges the pandemic poses.

According to IOM, labor corridors have been re-opened, helping to reanimate economies in both source and destination countries and dampen the economic impact of the pandemic.

"These are all positive steps, but we must move now to replicate these good practices more widely," Vitorino said.

 

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