Migration and Covid-19

In times of pandemic, everyone is at risk. And yet, pandemic is not necessarily a great equaliser: vulnerable people and groups such as migrants, asylum seekers and refugees have been disproportionately affected by the measures put in place by governments to deal with Covid-19.

Excluded groups have been left behind by governments’ responses to COVID-19 as control measures amplify existing health inequalities and put life-saving advice and care further out of reach.

The travel bans and border controls instituted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 jeopardised refugees’ access to international protection, bringing the right to leave any country and seek asylum into direct collision with the human right to life. From extended refugee camps lockdown to requirements to travel in order to fulfil requirements for their visa application, other measures have further endangered people’s health as well as their already precarious freedom of movement.

We have observed how many of the technologies used to combat the coronavirus pandemic, including monitoring and analysing social media posts, telecommunications location data, and the use of sensors, were first tested on refugees during the 2015 crisis, and have since developed into a surveillance architecture which is now being repurposed in the name of public health. And this trend continues, as we have seen proposals for apps or ankle bracelets to be tested on migrants and used to monitor them.

While governments announced measures to protect citizens, migrants, including economic migrants, migrant workers, asylum seekers, refugees, IDPs and stateless persons, workers have often been disregarded and instead targeted with more restrictive measures which are further limiting their enjoyment of their rights and freedoms.

25 Feb 2021
Health officials in Lebanon had indicated that all residents in Lebanon there would be equal access to the Covid-19 vaccine programme, regardless of nationality. However data is indicating a higher number of Syrian and Palestinian refugees either not registering or receiving the vaccine, and so a
15 May 2020
In mid-May two people living in or adjacent to the world’s largest refugee settlement, the Rohingya camps in southern Bangladesh, tested positive for COVID-19, leading aid workers to fear catastrophic effects on both the Rohingya themselves and Bangladesh in general. By the end of May another 132
27 Jan 2021
The government has revealed that illegal immigrants will also benefit from the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine. National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane said this during a virtual meeting between his department and the SA National Editors Forum on Wednesday afternoon. “We are in SA and we
08 Jan 2021
An immigration detention centre has been temporarily closed after several members of staff tested positive for coronavirus. The Home Office said Brook House, near Gatwick airport in West Sussex, has been shut for 10 days. It said a “very small number” of detainees had been moved to Colnbrook
05 Jan 2021
Undocumented immigrants in Nebraska will not be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines, Governor Pete Ricketts announced Monday. Ricketts, the son of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, was asked at a press conference if undocumented persons would be included when vaccines become available to
23 Dec 2020
A Sudanese man who had been seeking asylum in Ireland was deported to London just days before the UK capital went into the highest levels of COVID-related restrictions. The man, who is in his twenties, was deported last Thursday despite Irish government assurances to halt such removals during the
05 Jan 2021
The Home Office is pushing ahead with charter flights despite the UK’s new lockdown and soaring levels of coronavirus, in what campaigners say shows “contempt” for both deportees and the wider public. Boris Johnson announced new, stricter coronavirus measures on Monday in an effort to slow the
24 Nov 2020
Canada has a reputation, both at home and around the world, as a beacon of tolerance when it comes to acceptance of immigrants and refugees. Part of this is due to the favourable attitudes of Canadians on the issue. Over the decade, the balance of opinion in Canada has become increasingly positive
23 Oct 2020
Hundreds of wet and cold migrants were forced to spend hours in cramped containers on a “rubble-strewn building site” after arriving in the UK on small boats, a report has revealed. In a rare insight into how newly arrived asylum seekers are treated by authorities, prison inspectors visited Tug
21 Oct 2020
Foreign rough sleepers face being deported from Britain under draconian immigration laws to be introduced when the Brexit transition period ends. Under the immigration rules to be laid before parliament and due to come into force on 1 January, rough sleeping will become grounds for refusal of, or
14 Nov 2020
The Home Office did not discuss the decision to restart asylum evictions with local authorities, it has been revealed, despite concerns about the immediate impact on homelessness and heightened risks of coronavirus transmission. Councils were not briefed about the change in policy before it was
13 Nov 2020
NHS hospitals are wrongly sending bills for as much as “tens of thousands of pounds” to asylum seekers and refugees in Bristol - and refusing some care upfront, it is claimed. Asylum seekers and refugees are entitled to free healthcare in the UK. But there are numerous anecdotes of vulnerable
17 Nov 2020
Asylum seekers and trafficking victims are being forced to travel miles on public transport despite lockdown restrictions because the Home Office has said they must continue to report to officials in person. People who are awaiting a decision on their application to remain in the UK – including
19 Nov 2020
The world is set to hit a record low for resettling refugees this year, the UNHCR, the refugee branch of the United Nations, has warned. Figures show only 15,425 refugees had been resettled by the end of September, compared to 63,726 for the whole of 2019. In 2016 the number was eight times higher
20 Nov 2020



At least one immigration removal centre has already seen an outbreak of coronavirus, while detainees are left in limbo. People who were released from detention centres at the start of the pandemic are being quietly locked up again despite the health risks and uncertainty caused by the second wave
08 Oct 2020
A gap in government guidance means that thousands of legal migrant key workers could be forced to choose between following new public health laws and destitution, according to Labour MPs and charities. They are warning that no recourse to public funds (NRPF) conditions, which apply to roughly 1.4