The COVID-19 Pandemic, Migration and the Environment

The COVID-19 pandemic is having profound, widespread impacts on migrants, refugees and displaced persons, as well as on migration patterns at local and global level. Its implications for the different facets of the migration and environment nexus are also significant, and very diverse. People evacuating and displaced as a consequence of disasters are facing specific challenges respecting physical distancing and practicing other infection prevention measures. Migrants forced to return towards their home countries and locations might put additional pressures on already fragile ecosystems and livelihoods. Families and communities that were relying on migration as an adaptation or coping strategy have little options to send out their members or have stopped receiving remittances. 

In order to explore the theoretical and practical implications of these dynamics on migration and the environment all over the world, IOM is hosting a series of contributions by practitioners and researchers. This series provides a forum for the environment and migration community to share experiences, knowledge, ideas and recommendations on the linkages between the COVID-19 pandemic and disaster displacement, environmental migration, and the environmental impacts of people’s different movement decisions. This series includes contributions by authors with different disciplinary and professional backgrounds and on all regions of the world, aiming to provide a snapshot of the diversity and complexity of these implications. 

For more information about the series, and to share any potential contribution, please contact: mecchq@iom.int.

Articles in this series

1. COVID-19, a risk multiplier for future distress migration and displacement? by Chloe Sydney, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)

2. Reducing COVID-19 risk through population relocation and closed borders: effects of pandemic emergency measures in a small island state by Taukiei Kitara (Lead author), Carol Farbotko (Corresponding author), Maina Talia, Samid Suliman, Chris Evans

3. An environmentally-fragile and remittance-dependent country facing a pandemic: the accumulation of vulnerabilities in Kyrgyzstan by Suzy Blondin, University of Neuchâtel, Institute of Geography

4. COVID-19, Climate Change and Migration: Constructing Crises, Reinforcing Borders by Elodie Hut, Caroline Zickgraf, Francois Gemenne, Tatiana Castillo Betancourt, Pierre Ozer, Céline Le Flour

5. It is beneficial to have somewhere to go - 3 reflections on mobility and disaster vulnerability from the COVID-19 pandemic by Lorenzo Guadagno, IOM

6. Were we all trapped? Reflections on immobility during a global pandemic by Caroline Zickgraf, The Hugo Observatory  

7. Developing a risk framework to address the nexus between climate change, migration and COVID-19 by Emanuela Paoletti and Kira Vinke, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

8. Climate Migration and COVID-19 in Bolivia: The nexus and the way forward by Ximena Flores-Palacios, Bolivian independent researcher and practitioner

9. How migration, access to safe water and climate change can affect the COVID-19 pandemic evolution in Bangladesh by Monir Hossain, Hosne Tilat Mahal, Cristina Bradatan

10. Connecting planetary health, environmental changes and migration in times of pandemic by François Gemenne, Anneliese Depoux and Stefanie Schütte

Editorial Team

  • Alice BAILLAT, Associate Expert on Migration Environment and Climate Change and Liaison Officer for the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD), IOM HQ
  • Soumyadeep BANERJEE, Regional Thematic Specialist on Migration, Environment and Climate Change, Regional Office for South Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, IOM Vienna
  • Eliana BARRAGAN, Migration Health Project Officer, IOM HQ
  • Céline BAULOZ, Senior Research Officer, IOM HQ
  • Hind AÏSSAOUI BENNANI, Regional Thematic Specialist on Migration, Environment and Climate Change, Regional Office for West and Central Africa, IOM Dakar 
  • Martina CASTIGLIONI, Intern in the Migration, Environment and Climate Change Division, IOM HQ
  • Pablo ESCRIBANO, Regional Thematic Specialist on Migration, Environment and Climate Change, Regional Office for Central and North America and the Caribbean, IOM San José
  • Lorenzo GUADAGNO, Programme Manager for Migrants in Countries In Crises Initiative and Liaison Officer DOE/MECC, IOM HQ
  • Lisa LIM AH KEN, Regional Thematic Specialist on Migration, Environment and Climate Change, Regional Office for East Africa and the Horn of Africa, IOM Nairobi
  • Sieun LEE, Regional Thematic Specialist on Migration, Environment and Climate Change, Regional Office for Asia Pacific, IOM Bangkok
  • Rebecca PARRISH, PhD candidate at the University College London (UCL) studying the impacts of climate change on migration and population health in sub-Saharan Africa, using epidemiological modelling techniques.
  • Ileana Sinziana PUSCAS, Project Officer on Migration, Environment and Climate Change, IOM HQ

Please note that the views and opinions shared through this platform/in this post do not necessarily reflect those of the International Organization for Migration. It is our intention that this platform will facilitate the much needed respectful exchange of factual, constructive, information during these troubling times, and that through dialogue and information sharing we may all work towards enjoying better days ahead. We hope sincerely, and expect, that these best intentions will be shared and honoured, and that in this way we may continue to work better together.