The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in cooperation with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) are organising a regional conference on “Human Mobility in the Context of COVID-19.” IGAD hereby cordially invite abstracts to be submitted for presentation at the upcoming conference on 22-24 February 2021.
The IGAD region hosts 4.2 million refugees and around 8.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). Intra-regional movements like (seasonal) labour migration, mobile populations, cross-border trade, transhumant pastoralists, mixed migration, irregular migration, displacements through conflicts or due to rapid and slow-onset environmental events and disasters are predominant features of migration and displacement in the region. To facilitate intra-regional mobility IGAD Member States just recently endorsed a Free Movement and Transhumance Protocol and steps are underway to accelerate the adoption of a roadmap for implementation of the protocol.
The spread of COVID-19 virus had significant impact on mobility in general and more specifically on cross-border mobility and mixed migration. The immediate response to mitigate the spread of the virus included travel restrictions and border closures, which left many stranded. Large numbers of migrant workers in the Middle East and other countries have been stranded or forcibly returned to their country of origin unsettling their livelihoods and posing an additional burden to the health systems in countries of origin. Remittances from large diaspora communities outside the region are shrinking as the pandemic impacts the economy of host countries in unprecedented ways, which has led to reduction or loss of the diaspora’s income. This will have a huge impact on economies of migrant sending communities and countries, since remittances are the most stable form of foreign currency. Adverse effects of lockdowns on livelihoods in the medium and long-term are yet to be seen, but it is evident that migrants and refugees are among the most vulnerable with little capacity to absorb the shocks of this pandemic.