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07 Apr 2021

COVID-19 and the State of Global Mobility in 2020

The year 2020 was a landmark for human mobility, with dramatically reduced cross-border movements of all kinds. The COVID-19 pandemic decimated tourism and business travel; severely curtailed labour migration; and dampened movement of all stripes, from that of international students to family reunification. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been tracking the surge in travel restrictions, border closures and health-related travel requirements imposed by governments since the onset of the pandemic. This report, produced through collaboration between the IOM and the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), marks the first comprehensive analysis of these data to understand how the pandemic has reshaped border management and human mobility – and what the lasting ramifications may be throughout 2021 and beyond.

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • The Story of Mobility in 2020
    • The Phases of Cross-Border Mobility in 2020
  • The Impact of COVID-19 on Travellers and Migrants
    • A. Stranded Travellers and Repatriations
    • B. Impact on Displacement
    • C. Broader Impacts on Human Mobility 
    • D. Selected Regional Case Studies
  • Policy Developments and Implications
    • A. The State of International Coordination
    • B. Border Measures and Public Health Requirements
  • Key Decisions for 2021
  • About the Authors
  • Acknowledgements