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08 Dec 2021

Migration Policy Practice (Vol. XI, Number 3, October–November 2021)

Special Issue on COVID-19's Socioeconomic Impact in the MENA Region

The new issue of Migration Policy Practice focuses on COVID-19’s socioeconomic impact on migrants and displaced persons in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It provides an overview of the diverse effects of COVID-19 on a wide range of populations (i.e. labour migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons) across several countries (e.g. Yemen, Libya, Lebanon) and touches upon various topics (e.g. remittances, access to employment and social protection, mobility). 

Since the onset of the pandemic, international organizations, think tanks and academic institutions have produced considerable amounts of data on the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 on migration in the MENA region and, so to say, “mainstreamed” the pandemic in their ongoing research efforts. Despite this, a number of knowledge gaps must still be addressed, and it is difficult to fully comprehend the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on mobile populations’ socioeconomic outcomes in the region. What data do we need, and how can we get them? 

This special issue of MPP suggests that first, we need data focusing on a greater geographical coverage. Due to issues related to instability, conflict or lack of governmental buy-in, the quality and quantity of migration data available in the MENA region differ significantly from one country to another. Second, we need to ensure that data collected on the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 reflect the diversity of mobile populations’ situations. Third, we need data that take into account the evolving and long-term effects of the pandemic. In the early stages of the pandemic, some researchers struggled with determining the impact of COVID-19 on migrants’ socioeconomic outcomes, as the baseline data were not always available. 

This new edition of MPP also includes an article discussing current migration management processes in North Africa. The article argues that in focusing on halting departures and strengthening search and rescue operations, the European Union, its member States, and North African countries have overlooked important and deep-rooted mobility dynamics in the region. An effective reduction in irregular migration across the Mediterranean requires reducing irregular migration to and within North Africa as well as the promotion of well-managed, sustainable and regular labour migration flows across countries in the region.