Warning!! Africa, Asia To Face Migrant Crisis Amid Pandemic
Jun. 29, 2020
Millions of Asian and African migrants are expected to return home whether through compulsion or willingly as there may be no more job opportunities due to COVID-19, the International Labour Organization says.
The migrant workers who will be forced to return home after losing their jobs face unemployment and poverty in their home countries, it warned.
In some of the middle-income countries where the migrants will be forced to go back, labor markets that were struggling even before COVID-19 appeared are now further weakened by the pressure of high unemployment and serious business disruptions due to the pandemic.
These countries will also receive reduced remittances, a vital source of income for developing economies.
The World Bank has forecast that payments to low and middle-income countries will fall 19.7 percent to $445 billion and this will greatly affect poor households.
The expected decline can be attributed to a combination of factors driven by COVID-19 in key destinations where African migrants reside, including Europe, the United States, the Middle East and China.
These large economies host many sub-Saharan African migrants and are a source of close to a quarter of total remittances sent to the region, the bank said.
The ILO said policies should be put in place to protect stranded migrant workers and to ensure the reestablishment of those who return to their home countries.
The organization said helping returning migrants get settled will reduce tensions in their home countries, where some communities may fear that returning migrants may bring the virus or take jobs away.
"This is a potential crisis within a crisis," said Manuela Tomei, director of the organization's Conditions of Work and Equality Department.
There are estimated to be 164 million migrant workers worldwide, nearly half of them women, comprising 4.7 percent of the global labour force. While not all these workers will return home after losing their jobs or for other reasons, informal ILO research in more than 20 countries indicates that many millions are expected to do so.
Most of their home countries have very limited scope to reestablish such large numbers, and often lack the policies and systems to ensure effective labour migration governance and smooth reintegration plans, including for skills development and recognition.
Despite the unemployment crisis, the ILO said the returning migrant workers bring skills and talent that can help their home economies rebuild better after the pandemic.
Migrants from Africa, Cuba and Haiti, who are stranded in Honduras after borders were closed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, shield from the rain during their trek northward in an attempt to reach the U.S., in Tegucigalpa, Honduras June 3, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]
A medical worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) takes a swab sample from a woman, as South Africa starts to relax some aspects of a stringent nationwide COVID-19 lockdown in Diepsloot near Johannesburg, South Africa, May 8, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]
A woman wears a protective face mask as she washes her hands at a bank, following the outbreak of the COVID-19, in Abuja, Nigeria May 6, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]
Customers sit on chairs at Maponya Mall as South Africa starts to relax some aspects of a stringent nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 5, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]
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