Locked Down and Left Out? Why Access to Basic Services for Migrants is Critical to Our COVID-19 Response and Recovery

Red Cross Red Crescent Global Migration Lab
Publication language
Date published
09 Mar 2021
Research, reports and studies
COVID-19, Epidemics & pandemics, Forced displacement and migration, Health, Psychosocial support, Response and recovery, Good health and well-being (SDG)
Australia, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Philippines, Sahel, Sudan, Sweden, United Kingdom

The report – Locked down and left out? Why access to basic services for migrants is critical to our COVID-19 response and recovery – draws on research carried out across all regions by the newly established Red Cross Red Crescent Global Migration Lab, hosted by Australian Red Cross and supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The report shows that – while lockdowns and other measures were designed to control the spread of COVID-19 – in many contexts they inadvertently increased suffering among migrants. As a result of these restrictions, many migrants lost jobs and livelihoods and were subsequently unable to meet their most basic needs, leading to worrying levels of food insecurity, homelessness due to inability to pay rent, and worsening mental health conditions.

The research also found that, even in situations where migrants had been included in COVID-19 policies, their actual ability to access basic services was often constrained. For example, in some countries, migrants have been unable to access COVID-19 testing or treatment because they do not have a national identity or social security number. This is likely to also affect access to COVID-19 vaccinations, even if eligibility in law exists.

In other situations, migrants reported being hesitant to consult a doctor, seek treatment or, more recently, register for the COVID-19 vaccine due to fears of disclosing private information which may be shared with immigration authorities to arrest, detain or deport them. The fact that, in some countries, migrants need to register online to get COVID-19 vaccinations also contributes to exclusion, due to some migrants’ limited internet access or digital literacy and language barriers.

Red Cross Red Crescent Global Migration Lab