COVID-19 Crisis: Through a Migration Lens

The COVID‐19 outbreak has placed many internal migrant workers in dire conditions, many losing their (mostly informal) jobs and unable to return home due to disruption to public transport services and movement restrictions. This is the reality for most migrant workers, especially those working in the informal sector and living in overcrowded slums. Lockdowns, travel bans, and social distancing measures in response to the crisis have disproportionately affected internal migrant workers, who found themselves stranded, unable to return either to their places of work or their communities of origin. Without adequate access to housing, basic water and sanitation, health facilities, or social safety nets to help them survive such restrictions, these migrants have become even more vulnerable to contagion risks. If discrimination and xenophobic attitudes affected migrants before, the current crisis has exacerbated such social tensions. The crisis has created a chaotic and painful process of mass return for internal migrants in India and many countries in Latin America. As a result, the COVID‐19 containment measures might even have contributed to spreading the epidemic. The loss of jobs and livelihood has also ruptured an important lifeline to rural households in many countries.