For many years researchers have talked about the “Age of Migration”, an era when more and more people were on the move. Suddenly within the space of less than two months movements across most borders have almost ceased completely – and policymakers are faced with the challenge of managing migration during a period of immobility. According to IOM, as of 23 April 2020, a total of 215 countries, territories and areas had implemented a total of 52,262 restrictive measures.
How will the pandemic and new restrictions on movements affect global migration?
Based on 11 contributions by several senior officials and experts from international organizations, NGOs and academia, this special issue of Migration Policy Practice discusses the emerging effects of COVID-19 for migrants and migration policy worldwide from a range of perspectives including the humanitarian, economic and data-related implications of the new pandemic.
It stresses that while most refugees and migrants live in individual and communal accommodations in urban areas, and therefore face similar health threats from COVID-19 as their host populations, their degree of vulnerability may be a lot higher due to the conditions of their migratory journeys, limited employment opportunities, overcrowded and poor living and working conditions with inadequate access to food, water, sanitation and other basic services.
On the economic front, due to travel and other restrictions, labour migration flows have been reduced drastically, resulting in declining economic activity, as well as in a range of family and food security issues. On 22 April 2020, the World Bank predicted that global remittances could decline sharply by about 20 per cent in 2020 due to the economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown.
On the other hand, the ability to access timely and accurate statistics and analysis to monitor the implications of the pandemic is still suboptimal and data collection generally, and the implementation of censuses in particular, will need to change drastically as a result of the pandemic. Among other things, face-to-face data collection will not be the norm anymore and changes in the data infrastructure will be needed in order to accommodate such a development.
Lessons drawn from past global crises may also help policymakers understand and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. This special issue of MPP explores, in particular, the effects that the financial crisis of 2008, the Arab Spring in 2011 and the migrant emergency in 2015 have had on migration policies, migration flows and migrants´ potential to contribute to household resilience and national development in their countries of origin.
This issue marks the tenth anniversary of Migration Policy Practice. The editors and editorial team would therefore like to thank all their authors and readers for their contribution to the establishment and recognition of MPP as the only international journal directed at migration policymakers worldwide.