Migrants vs Covid-19:an epidemic of emergency measures

Brief #13 - June 2021

Covid-19 has deepened structural inequalities. As a result, migrants from countries of the global South have been severely impacted by the pandemic and the measures aimed at curtailing its spread. People whose situation has been made illegal, displaced persons and those fleeing war or trying to get across borders to improve their lot have been hard hit by border closures. No longer able to “go home” and self-isolate, these people have endured a new form of warfare waged against them, in addition to the campaign that State powers have been levelling against them for years. Declaring war against the virus has intensified violence on the borders and led to new forms of deprivation of rights.

Similarly, within European societies themselves, on account of their status and of their occupation (jobs in health, agriculture, food, construction and care sectors), migrants whose situation has been rendered illegal or who have been boxed into precarious conditions, have not been able to stop working or work remotely. When these people were not “on the front line” and unable to shelter from the virus, these individuals not only lost their means of livelihood but had no access to any income support. A report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) confirmed that migrants have been singularly affected both by the pandemic and by its economic repercussions.

It is likely that these inequalities will become greater still in the coming months. In this way, even as borders gradually re-open for those who enjoyed broad freedom of movement up to the spring of 2020, the sanitary control measures will now serve as new pretexts to effectively place the poorest under house arrest.

[Extract - Edito]

Contributors : Diletta Agresta, Annapaola Ammirati, Adélaide Massimi (ASGI), Charles Heller (Chercheur, Forensic Oceanography, co-président de Migreurop), Cécile Vanderstappen (CNCD 11.11.11), Brigitte Espuche (co-coordinatrice de Migreurop), Emmanuel Blanchard (GISTI), Claire Rodier (GISTI).
Map : Brigade d’interventions cartographiques (Migreurop)
Photography : Fabio Peonia / AGF