GMS Migrants during Covid-19 Pandemic


The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on people’s lives around the world. Migrants in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) are among the most vulnerable to the present upheaval, given their limited access to healthcare, lack of job security and precarious immigration status. Since the beginning of the outbreak, Mekong Migration Network (MMN) has taken steps to engage with different stakeholder groups, including governments, recruitment agency associations, CSOs and migrant-supporting groups in the GMS, and migrant communities to jointly develop policy responses and support systems with migrants’ rights and dignity in mind.

Overview of responses from GMS countries to Covid-19 concerning migrants is available here.

MMN Press Releases during Covid-19

  • April 3, 2020: Statement on the Impact of Covid-19 on Migrants in the Greater Mekong Subregion (in English and Thai)
  • November 9, 2020: Statement on Supporting Migrant Workers ahead of 13th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour (AFML) (in English, Vietnamese, Burmese, and Thai)
  • December 16, 2020: Press Release following the Panel Discussion at Foreign Correspondents’ Club Thailand (FCCT) (in English)
  • December 23, 2020: Statement following the Outbreak of COVID-19 among Migrant Workers in Samut Sakhon (in English and Thai)
  • December 28, 2020: Press Release on the Publication of MMN Photographic Booklet, “Resilience and Uncertainty: Mekong Migrant Workers amid the Pandemic Downturn” (in English)
  • November 22, 2021: Press Release on the Launch of MMN Report, “Surviving the Pandemic: To Stay or Go? A Study into the Decision-making of Mekong Migrants” (in English, Thai and Burmese)
  • December 9, 2021: Statement following Multi-stakeholder Workshop to discuss strategies for fairer labour migration to Japan from Cambodia and Vietnam (in English, Japanese, and Vietnamese)
  • December 18, 2021: Crisis Migration from Myanmar: Protect the Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees (in English, Thai, and Burmese)

Related Initiatives

Since Covid-19 outbreak, MMN has monitored news related to GMS migrants. Major developments and decisions by each Mekong government that affect GMS migrants have been chronologically and thematically categorized here

MMN conducted a collaborative research project to better understand the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the living conditions and the decision-making GMS migrants in Thailand. The result, a report named “Surviving the Pandemic: To Stay or Go? A Study into the Decision-making of Mekong Migrants”, can be accessed here, including briefers in English, Thai, and Burmese. 

On December 15, 2020, MMN organised a Panel Discussion at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand. At the panel, MMN joined a representative from the Ministry of Labour of Thailand, civil society representatives from Thailand and Cambodia, and a migrant worker from Myanmar to discuss the lessons learnt from the decision-making of migrants in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) during the pandemic, and presented preliminary findings from MMN forthcoming research on the matter. More details of the panel discussion can be found here.

MMN booklet, “Resilience and Uncertainty: Mekong Migrant Workers amid the Pandemic Downturn”,  presents the stories of migrants interviewed in Mae Sot, Chiang Mai, Ranong and Phang Nga. These stories, accompanied by photo portraits taken by the documentary photographer John Hulme, show how migrants in Thailand endeavour to overcome the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. The booklet (available in English and Thai) was launched on 15 December 2020 at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre. An exhibition of selected stories and photos was held in conjunction with the launch in collaboration with SEA Junction. Take a virtual tour of the exhibition and hear from documentary photographer John Hulme here.

Since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic, GMS countries of origin directly impact the well-being of migrants in various ways, including but not limited to assisting migrants at countries of destination by embassies and labour attachés, providing timely and accurate information on repatriation, quarantine policy, border regulations to migrants and migrant families, supporting financially to migrants and migrant families in economic distress, and ensuring safe deployment during the pandemic.

Read more details here

To learn more about MMN broader initiatives to promote stronger roles of countries of origin, click here.


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