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Assessment on the Impact of Covid-19 on Migrant Workers in and from the IGAD Region

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) in close collaboration with the IGAD Secretariat has produced this report titled Impact of COVID 19 on Migrant Workers in and from the IGAD region as part of the project on “Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance in the IGAD Region: Improving Opportunities for Regular Labour Mobility” financed by the European Union. The report forms part of the knowledge-generation component of the project which among other things aims to generate knowledge and evidence for improving labour migration and mobility governance in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region.

The world has never faced a major epidemiological calamity of a global scale like the prevailing novel COVID-19 with rapid infections, accompanying casualties and inhibition to not only work but also mobility of persons. COVID-19 has also significantly affected the working and living conditions as well as prospects of migrant workers. This report captures major trends and findings on the impact of COVID 19 on migrant workers in and from the IGAD region, to determine how migrant workers need to be supported by states and other actors in this new context, and in preparation of possible future crises. Data for this assessment was collected between May and September 2020 remotely through online research; semi-structured interviews; and an online survey targeting migrant workers, migrant workers associations, government officials, employers’ organisations, workers’ organisations, private employment agencies, international organisations, non-government organisations and other relevant stakeholders.

The report provides an overview about the situation of COVID-19 in the IGAD region and identifies the major socio economic challenges faced by migrant workers in and from the IGAD region particularly in the Middle East, which is a major destination for migrant workers from the region. It also examined national and regional responses put in place by governments, regional actors such as IGAD, the EAC and the AU as well as international organisations and CSOs based on a comprehensive analytical framework structured around seven major pillars uniquely prepared for this study. At the end, the report also uncovers aspects to be considered in the implementation of the IGAD Free Movement of Persons Protocol during an international health emergency. It proposes measures to be that would boost a regional response to a possible future international health crisis and the protection of migrant workers in such a crisis. The report concludes with short, medium and long term recommended actions for the FMPT project, the IGAD MSs, the IGAD Secretariat and other partners to strengthen the protection of migrant workers.

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