The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global human mobility dynamics. This IMR Dispatch examines the historical, bidirectional links between pandemics and mobility and provides an early analysis of how they unfolded during the first nine months of the COVID-19 emergency. Results show, first, that international travel restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus are not a panacea in and of themselves. Second, our analysis demonstrates that the pandemic, government responses, and resulting economic impacts can lead to the involuntary immobility of at-risk populations, such as aspiring asylum-seekers or survival migrants. In a similar fashion, stay-at-home measures have posed dire challenges for those workers who lack options to work from home, as well as for migrants living in precarious, crowded circumstances. Moreover, global economic contraction has increased involuntary immobility by reducing both people’s resources to move and the demand for labor. Third, we show that people’s attempts to protect themselves from the virus can result in shifting patterns of mobility, such as increases in cross-border return migration and urban-to-rural movements. Drawing on international guidance for measures to combat pandemics and relevant frameworks on mobility, we propose approaches to alleviate the burden of travel restrictions on migrants and people aspiring to move, while still addressing the need to contain the pandemic and lessen its repercussions.
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organization with a mission to accompany, serve, and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, that they may heal, learn, and determine their own future. In this episode of CMSOnAir, Joan Rosenhauer, the Executive Director of JRS-USA, shares how JRS is adapting its advocacy for a new administration and transforming its programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She also shares stories about the “proactive, resilient, hopeful” refugees she has met through her work with JRS.
The Spring 2021 edition of the International Migration Review (IMR) is now available online and in print through paid or institutional subscription. This edition is thematically sorted into three sections. The first has articles about immigrant integration, civic engagement, and institutions. The second discusses immigration enforcement, securitization, and social dynamics. The third examines migration across time, focusing on settlement, mobility, and family.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) data indicates that there are approximately 281 million people living outside of their country of origin and they represent 3.6 percent of the global population. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that by mid-2020, the world’s population of forcibly displaced people and refugees surpassed 80 million. International migrants and the forcibly displaced have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic due to border closures, travel restrictions, unemployment, and xenophobia, racism, and stigmatization. They have been among the world’s most vulnerable persons to the pandemic and its socio-economic consequences.
In its Climate-Induced Migration Initiative, CMS seeks to explore the connection between climate change and migration, provide analysis of international efforts to address climate-induced migration, and share policy ideas that address the challenges of communities most affected by environmental degradation.
People’s circumstances, available choices, and decisions on movement are affected by climate change. However, it is too simplistic and empirically inaccurate to suggest that climate change causes human movement. First, while scientific efforts are evolving, in general attributing a specific event or phenomena solely to climate change is difficult. Second, the impacts of climate change are never the sole ‘cause’ of human movements. Third, personal and household characteristics, as well as obstacles and facilitators, influence decisions on movement.
The Center for Migration Studies (CMS) has recently released four new resources describing and proposing solutions to the challenges faced by refugees and forcibly displaced persons globally. A new CMS essay, provides an overview of the Venezuelan crisis and closely examines legal contexts and responses of countries receiving Venezuelans. A new paper from CMS’s Journal on Migration and Human Security outlines the legal protections afforded migrants in places of armed conflicts and describes the obstacles to realizing those protections in the context of the Yemeni and Libyan conflicts. CMS has also published a new story from Omar al-Muqdad, a prominent journalist, documentary filmmaker, and former Syrian refugee. Al-Muqdad reflects on a Syrian refugee camp that was set ablaze and shares the hopes of Abdul Qadir, a father living in a Syrian refugee camp. A new video interview with Donald Kerwin, executive director of CMS, provides an informal overview and reflection on the world’s forcibly displaced persons and the conditions they face at the advent of a new year. Finally, CMS and Refugee Council USA released an exhaustive report on ways to rebuild and strengthen the US refugee resettlement program.
With a new year on the horizon and the world focused on the coronavirus pandemic, another harsh winter has arrived at the door of the squalid refugee camps where hundreds of thousands struggle to survive and retain their human dignity. Many harsh winters have passed over Syrian and many other refugees with what seems like total indifference from the world’s governments, including some who were strongly committed to refugee acceptance in the past.
In this interview, Donald Kerwin, executive director of the Center for Migration Studies, provides an update on the conditions facing refugees and forcibly displaced persons throughout the world. He also shares findings from the recent CMS and Refugee Council USA report on refugee resettlement and he reflects on the connection between refugees, the Christmas story, and Catholic Social Teaching.