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The COVID-19 Pandemic, Migration
and the Environment

April 2020

More than a Health Crisis?
Assessing the Impacts of COVID-19 on Climate Migration

A think piece by Dina Ionesco and Mariam Traore Chazalnoël,
IOM Migration, Environment and Climate Change Division
The immense impact of COVID-19 on migration has been a shock to many of us, and we now live in a world where the human mobility of people within and across borders is greatly reduced – at least temporarily – to an unprecedented extent. This unparalleled situation reminds us how much migration is – and has historically been – an essential foundation of our societies. Without freedom of movement, our world has been completely redefined within a few weeks.

Two of the main portfolios of work at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are migrant health and crisis response. The organization leverages its extensive expertise in these two areas to support communities and national health systems to respond to the current health crisis from a mobility perspective. IOM is particularly concerned with the risk of potential outbreaks of the infection in camps and displacement situations.

In parallel to the emergency response, the community of experts in migration, environment and climate change is thinking about the multiple dimensions that the COVID-19 crisis has and will have on our work.

In this article, we share a preliminary analysis of the linkages between the current crisis and our engagement on migration, environment and climate, considering potential impacts on migration management and migration policy and on migrants and communities.

Our goal is to prompt a conversation on the possible long-term impacts of the current situation in our professional area, not to enter into a scaremongering and speculative exercise.
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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling for researchers and practitioners to share their experience, knowledge and recommendations on the linkages between the COVID-19 pandemic, migration and the environment.

The aim of the call is to identify migration and environment issues that are relevant to the current COVID-19 crisis, as well as related lessons learned, approaches and recommendations that can help shape policy, operations and research on this and future pandemics, their direct and indirect impacts and mobility implications.
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