The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted migration and mobility in the Asia Pacific region in multiple and complex ways. Over the course of 2020-’21, various restrictions on public health grounds to halt the spread of the virus were placed on many of the available pathways for mobility.
Such pathways included visas for the temporary entry of non-citizens, labour migration programmes, humanitarian entry schemes as well as refugee resettlement programs, family unification mechanisms and other measures by which states manage the entry and stay of people in their territories.
Across the region, borders were closed, often abruptly, and lockdowns in urban and rural centres confined millions to their homes for indefinite lengths of time. Forced into unemployment by business closures and contracting economies, and usually unable to carry out their jobs remotely, many migrants were forced to return to countries which struggled to reintegrate them and to include them in fragile health systems.
Many faced stigma and even violence having been portrayed as “disease carriers” in the countries in which they lived and worked, as well as when they returned home. This picture is rendered bleaker by the harsh fact that for many people on the move, the pandemic only exacerbated the exclusion and discrimination they…