Roles of Countries of Origin during Covid-19 Pandemic

During the current Covid-19 crisis, migrants make decisions under high financial and time pressure, and based on a complex range of factors, which include, but not limited to family needs, economic necessity, health concerns, sense of belonging, practical consideration such as border closure and re-immigration possibility, job availability, future hopes and aspirations. To assist migrants to make the most beneficial decisions for their well-being, as well as the well-being of their families, governments of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam must ensure migrants’ access to accurate and timely information, strengthen embassies’ availability to assist migrants in destination countries, regulate recruitment agencies to protect prospective migrants, secure sufficient support for migrant returnees and their families, and coordinate with destination countries to provide access to social protection for migrants abroad.

Read responses of each Mekong country to Covid-19 concerning migrants here

MMN’s Area of Focus on GMS Migrants during Covid-19 Pandemic can be found here

In particular, as the pandemic and its economic impacts persist, and as migration to some key destination countries has restarted, we continue to urge governments of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam to pursue the following recommendations, highlighted in MMN Press Releases and Statements since the Covid-19 outbreaks:

  1. Provide clear and comprehensive information to migrants regarding repatriation, including: quarantine costs; necessary process and helpful contacts; and endeavour to keep any costs to a minimum.
  2. Strengthen the support provided by diplomatic missions and labour attachés, including: enhancing information dissemination for migrants via various communication channels; securing sufficient human resources to respond to inquiries and reports from migrants; and increasing the effectiveness and capacity of embassy and consulate support services.
  3. Provide appropriate support for families who have lost income as a result of the return of migrant family members. Should these measures be part of respective countries’ relief packages for those who have lost income as a result of the adverse economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, such relief measures must include migrants and migrant returnees. Relax documentation requirements to ensure that all migrant returnees have access to public healthcare, regardless of their household registration status.
  4. Ensure safe deployment by providing prospective migrants with the most up-to-date information regarding the Covid-19 situation, including: required quarantine and other health check processes; occupational health and safety measures to be applied during the pandemic; complaint reporting mechanisms, access to justice, and health and social protection rights entitlements in destination countries.
  5. Monitor and mandate recruitment agencies to ensure that migrant workers who are not able to be deployed can terminate their contracts and receive refunds together with their personal documents.
  6. Collaborate with destination countries to pursue a zero recruitment fee model where all the cost related to migration is shouldered by employers or subsidised by government. Where there is ambiguity, such as quarantine costs for migrants, issue clear guidelines as to who is responsible, and establish mechanisms to ensure migrants’ salary and benefit are not deducted as a consequence.

List of all MMN press releases and Statements during Covid-19 pandemic is available here

Excerpts from Migrants' Interviews