More than 2.7 million migrants who wanted to return home have been stranded abroad due to restrictions to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations said on Friday.
The world urgently needs to step up cooperation so that people can return safely despite the restrictions of the coronavirus, the United Nations International Organization for Migration said.
The IOM warned in a report that border closings and travel bans have stranded large numbers of migrants.
It defined stranded migrants as people outside their habitual country of residence who wanted to return home but were prevented by restrictions related to the pandemic.
IOM chief Antonio Vitorino urged countries to do more for the roughly 2.75 million people who are in limbo.
“The scope and subsequent enforcement of tens of thousands of mobility restrictions, including border closings and nationwide closures related to Covid-19, require states to reach out to their neighbors and migrants’ countries of origin to address their needs and vulnerabilities,” said he said in a statement.
“Migrants can be returned home in a safe and dignified manner despite the restrictions imposed by Covid-19.”
IOM said it calculated the 2.75 million figure from official sources for known cases by July 13 of migrants stranded overseas and in need of assistance, including food, water, shelter and repatriation.
These include seasonal workers, temporary workers, international students, migrants who have traveled for medical treatment and seafarers.
The Middle East and North Africa had the most stranded migrants with 1.26 million stranded migrants, followed by Asia and the Pacific with 977,000.
There were another 203,000 in the European Economic Area and Switzerland and 111,000 in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Based on data from 382 locations in more than 101 countries, this is viewed as a “major underestimation of the number of migrants stranded or otherwise affected by Covid-19,” IOM said.
The IOM said it has received requests to help nearly 115,000 stranded migrants return home safely and voluntarily, for more than 15,000 of the most vulnerable in the past few months.
“Once some migrants are stranded, they are at greater risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect,” she warned.
“The loss of livelihoods can increase vulnerability and expose them to exploitation by criminal syndicates, human traffickers and others who take advantage of these situations.”
The organization said that migrants were too often excluded from national coronavirus response and recovery plans due to their irregular status.
“Covid-19’s mobility policies and measures – ranging from various travel restrictions, health requirements and measures to full border closures and nationwide and / or localized closures – have in some cases created new challenges for migrants at the same time, exacerbating their existing vulnerabilities,” said it in the report.
The problem has also been raised of around 400,000 seafarers currently stranded at sea, some of whom have been on their ships for up to 17 months – six months longer than the maximum allowed.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)