COVID-19 crisis: Why we must prioritise mental health of the world’s displaced

By Shaifali Sandhya, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Care Family Consultation


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Deprsession-shutterstock_332939864The modern world is in an unprecedented situation. In the last decade, the global population of the forcibly displaced has swelled to 70.8 million; with the advent of COVID-19, its numbers are expected to soar as a staggering number of refugee and asylum-seeker families find themselves further displaced by fear of disease, food insecurity and by the pressures of collapsing national economies. In many countries displaced communities’ access to labour markets is limited to the informal market, and equally vulnerable will be nations’ shadow workers – garbage workers, prostitutes, domestic help, garment makers, and gig workers. Faced with an economic crisis of cataclysmic proportions, economists and political leaders will be tempted to focus solely on the physical and economic facets of the current crisis.  But if we want to make it through this crisis, that won’t be enough.  In addition to financial and physical wellbeing we will need to recognize and address mental health around the world and at every level of society, especially of its displaced communities. We are at best, unprepared for the worst; for both OECD and developing countries, we need to provide tailored mental health treatment to those who need it in the communities they live in. Continue reading

COVID-19 : conséquences pour les migrations internationales et le développement

Par Jason Gagnon, Économiste du développement, Centre de développement de l’OCDE


Ce blog fait partie d’une série sur la lutte contre le COVID-19 dans les pays en voie de développement. Visitez la page dédiée de l’OCDE pour accéder aux données, analyses et recommandations de l’OCDE sur les impacts sanitaires, économiques, financiers et sociétaux de COVID-19 dans le monde.


Immigration-coronavirus

(Read this blog in English)

Bien que la pandémie de COVID-19 ne soit pas un problème de migration, elle est perçue et gérée comme tel. Le discours exploitant la peur face à la crise pourrait donner de l’espace aux politiques structurelles anti-migration. Ce qui nuirait aux droits et à la santé des migrants, et à leur impact positif sur le développement : en 2017, environ 258 millions de migrants internationaux ont comblé les pénuries de main-d’œuvre et contribué au transfert de compétences, de biens et de services indispensables dans le monde entier.

Nous avons fait des progrès remarquables pour renforcer la gouvernance des migrations. Mais si les droits des migrants ne sont pas protégés face à la crise du Covid-19 à court et à long terme, les avancées pourraient être réduites, mettant les migrants et leurs familles, ainsi que certains des fondements de notre économie mondiale, en danger. Continue reading

COVID-19: consequences for international migration and development

By Jason Gagnon, Development economist, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Immigration-coronavirus

(Lisez ce blog en français)

While the COVID-19 pandemic is not a migration issue, it is being viewed and managed as one. Fear-exploiting rhetoric around the crisis could provide the political space to push structural anti-migration policies through. This would be detrimental to the rights and health of migrants, and the positive impact migrants have on development – in 2017, an estimated 258 million international migrants filled labour shortages and contributed to transferring much needed skills, goods and services around the globe.

We have made remarkable strides to strengthen migration governance but if migrants’ rights are not protected in the short and long-term response to the COVID-19 crisis, progress could unravel, putting migrants and their families, as well as some of the foundations of our global economy at risk. Continue reading

Let’s be transparent about refugee and IDP statistics

By Justin Schon, Postdoctoral Associate, University of Florida

refugeesIn March 2018, the Expert Group on Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Statistics (ERGIS) released detailed reports on the status of refugee and IDP statistics and challenges in compiling these statistics. The reports made many valuable recommendations for how to increase the quality and quantity of migration data, but several recent developments highlight the need to also be more transparent about the types of uncertainty that exist in our measurements.

Uganda announced in October that a recent census had revealed that it currently hosts 1.1 million refugees, not 1.4 million as had previously been believed. IOM data on displacement from Mosul in Iraq during the 2016-2017 military offensive to retake the city from ISIS forces show a sudden jump in the estimate of IDPs due to a counting adjustment. Fabrice Balanche notes that UNOCHA decreased its estimate of Syrian IDPs from 7.5 million to 6.5 million during the fall of 2015, simply due to blatant overestimates that it knew were being provided.

Uncertain estimates even exist in refugee camps, where there are large numbers of humanitarian personnel. Officials in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp have significantly revised its estimated population multiple times after new counts. For example, the REACH initiative conducted a camp census from December 30, 2014 through January 18, 2015, and counted 7 954 fewer people in the camp than during the June 2014 count. On July 10, 2018, UNHCR deactivated nearly 11 000 camp registrations due either because they were absent from the camp, they were bailed out, they had registered elsewhere in an urban location, or they had returned to their country of origin. Continue reading

Understanding South-South migration

By Jason Gagnon, PGD1 coordinator, OECD Development Centre

Uganda-bus-station-PGD.jpg

Migration is the talk of the moment. Last week, I participated in the 11th GFMD2 Summit and the Intergovernmental Conference on the GCM3, where experts debated migration’s place in today’s global context. The outcome: 163 member countries of the United Nations pledged their support for a ground breaking document establishing migration – and migrants – as a vehicle for good.

Amongst the many debates, much talk was on South-South migration (SSM) and on the future particularly of Africa in this regard. But why this focus? Most studies on SSM fail to clarify what is different about SSM and why we should pay attention to it. Arguments are good for why SSM may be similar or different to what we’ve come to expect from previously studied migration corridors. But there are also many misconceptions on SSM – particularly in Africa. So what do we know?

Most of this misconceived perception lies in how we measure stocks, which currently tells us that more migrants born in the South live elsewhere in the South (than in the North): 53% to be exact in Africa. And the numbers are indeed much higher when we dig more locally: 71% in sub-Saharan Africa. Dig down deeper and the rate increases even more: up to 79% in Middle Africa.

Continue reading

Gender and Skilled Immigration: Challenges and Recommendations

By Dr Anna Boucher, University of Sydney

woman-looking-forwardWith population ageing occurring in all advanced industrial nations, immigration policy is one key way to augment the skill base of domestic labour forces. Though the economic benefit of skilled immigration for receiving states has been a central policy focus globally, the equity considerations of such policies have attracted less attention. Yet, in the global race for human capital, gender equality matters.

Research demonstrates that while women comprise an equal proportion of migrant stock globally, they are underrepresented within skilled immigration flows (Brücker et al 2013 and Piper and Yamanaka 2008). This is particularly true of women from key developing countries in the global South (i.e. Sharma 2006: 129). These data stand despite the increasing educational achievements of women globally, which suggests that governments utilise factors other than educational status to assess “skill” within selection criteria (Brücker et al 2013). As such, labour migration is segmented by both country of origin and by gender. Considering these factors is important for understanding intersectional equality as gender discrimination can operate alongside other forms of disadvantage.

Continue reading

Is migration good for development? Wrong question!

By David Khoudour, Head of the Migration and Skills Unit, OECD Development Centre

This summer’s conference in Addis Ababa acknowledged migration’s positive contribution to development. The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now take the next step of announcing migration-related targets. The SDGs recognise the need to protect the rights of migrant workers, especially women migrants, adopt well-managed migration policies and reduce remittance fees. However, international migration remains a very sensitive issue for most countries, as the current refugee crisis reveals. Such apparent schizophrenia between the international development agenda and the national policy one raises one important question: Can migration be good for development in countries migrants leave behind? Continue reading