You are here: Home News How COVID-19 has affected international labour migration – and the path to enduring reintegration

How COVID-19 has affected international labour migration – and the path to enduring reintegration

World Economic Forum, Global, 31 May 2021 - The COVID-19 pandemic has caused 3 million deaths, as well as lockdowns and shutdowns of markets and industries worldwide. It is triggering a rethinking of international economic and political relationships. It is creating a “new normal” in everything – from classroom education, to international labour migration.

International labour migration has been devastated by the pandemic. We face real and immediate concerns related to the job security and well-being of more than 91 million international migrants from Asia and the Pacific, not to mention those from other regions around the world.

The pandemic has particularly affected migrant remittances, reintegration and employment – here's how governments should respond.

Migration retreat and slip-sliding remittances

An Asian Development Bank (ADB) report finds "total remittances to Asia are expected to drop between $31.4 billion (baseline scenario) and $54.3 billion (worst-case scenario) in 2020, equivalent to 11.5% and 19.8% of baseline remittances, respectively".

With many households in developing Asia depending on international remittances, "a sudden stop in remittance flow to these regions could push people into poverty", the report continues. It will take an even greater effort for returning migrants, remittance banks and host country governments to extend temporary social protection programs to assist stranded or COVID-infected migrants. Governments of returning migrants will be compelled to make enormous local and foreign loans to extend social protection, vaccination and treatment of their whole populations. They will also need to "design comprehensive immigration, health, and labor policies that enable migrants to return to jobs" and "ensure the continuity of remittance services and enabling business environment".

All reintegration programs by migrant support groups and by governments will depend upon the evaluation of their advocacy for migrants according to the laws passed that ensure their protection – if there are any.



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