International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in a report on Tuesday (March 9) said that migrants hit an ‘invisible wall’ when they tried to avail themselves COVID-19 treatment and vaccines.
Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary-General said, “Our research reveals what we are calling an ‘invisible wall’ that has blocked migrants – particularly those undocumented or in an irregular situation – from accessing basic services. Interestingly, this wall isn’t built mainly of policies designed to exclude migrants. Instead, it is made up of inadvertent exclusions, as well as the unintended consequences of efforts to contain and control the pandemic.”
The report said that while restrictions imposed during the pandemic were aimed to control the spread of COVID-19, it had a detrimental effect on the migrant labourers as many of them lost their jobs and livelihood. This, in turn, led to worsening financial conditions as they were unable to meet their basic needs like food and shelter and affected people’s mental health.
Furthermore, researchers also found that migrants were often unable to get COVID care because they do not have a national identity or social security number which will also affect them when the vaccination drive reaches their place.
In addition, migrants also feared that if they visit any doctor, hospitals for treatment their private information may be shared with the law enforcement agencies of the country which would lead to arrest and detention. Another problem is that in many countries people need to go online to get themselves registered for vaccination which is posing problems for migrants due to ’ limited internet access or digital literacy and language barriers.
Chapagain added, “The inclusion of migrants into national COVID-19 policies does not necessarily translate into inclusive and effective access in practice. It is not only a humanitarian imperative to ensure the inclusion of all migrants, irrespective of legal status, into national COVID-19 vaccination programmes, but it is also in every country’s interests to do so. COVID-19 doesn’t care about a person’s migration status, and neither should we. Unless everyone is included, the virus will continue to circulate and mutate, potentially undermining the efficacy of all vaccinations efforts.”