Migration data relevant for the COVID-19 pandemic

Last updated on 11 January 2021

Migrants – particularly in lower paid jobs – may be both more affected by and vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 in countries already impacted and those countries where the pandemic is spreading, but migrants also play an important role in the response to COVID-19 by working in critical sectors. As of 3 November 2020, emigrants from the 20 countries with the highest number of COVID-19 cases accounted for nearly 28 per cent of the total international migrant stock and they had sent an estimated 37 per cent of all remittances globally to their countries of origin in 2019 (GMDAC analysis based on UN DESA, 2019World Bank 2020aWHO, 2020)1. Immigrants accounted for at least 4.5 per cent of the population in 12 of the 20 countries with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, and this share is more than 10 per cent in 8 of these countries (GMDAC analysis based on UN DESA, 2019WHO, 2020). Compared to the global share of international migrants making up 3.5 per cent of the total population, international migrants are overrepresented in these countries. Increasing border restrictions also have an impact on the mobility of migrants and the role of humanitarian organizations. Between 11 March 2020, when the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and 26 October 2020, the total number of movement restrictions implemented around the world has increased to more than 96,000 (IOM, 2020a). At the same time, 167 countries, territories or areas have issued 681 exceptions to these restrictions, thus enabling mobility (ibid.). 

This page discusses data on migrants that can inform how they are potentially both affected by the impact of COVID-19 and are part of the response to the pandemic. As information related to the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly evolving, figures and other data will be updated on a regular basis. For information by country, please see here and below the map for key indicators on migration and demography. For key trends by region on the impact of COVID-19, please see our regional data overviews.

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