Status of Refugees During COVID-19 Pandemic:
The Wuhan originating virus is spreading in almost all the corners of the world, and because of that, the world is undergoing a complete lockdown. This has hit the economy to a large extent as the production is halted, or else, it will lead to a community spread. Governments around the world are adopting different measures, like Janata Curfew, in India, which is mostly hampering the daily lives of the refugees. The governments are adopting such measures to control the number of deaths, as later it can lead to a catastrophe.
Refugees means those groups of people who have been forced to leave their country of origin, in order to escape a war, persecution or a natural disaster, like the pandemic in this case.
In recent times, numerous international organizations, along with the UNHCR have barred the movement and resettlement of the refugees from 10th March, to curb the spread of the virus, which has affected around 70 million people and almost 131 refugee hosting countries.
Countries like Italy, Malaysia and Canada have tried their level best. Ports in Italy have been shut as a reason of basic public health concern. Canada, which is argued to have soft policies for refugees, has now stared adopting hard line approaches, and denying the entry to asylum seekers. Also, in Malaysia, entry was restricted to a boat, which was ferrying around 200 Rohingyas on a ground, like Italy’s which had later resulted to death of 30 Rohingya refugees, getting drowned in the sea.
Rohingyas are those members of a Muslim community, residing in West Burma, who are most vulnerable sections of the society to COVID-19, as they live quite closely to each other, becoming difficult for social distancing. After the spread of Corona Virus, soaps, hand sanitizers, liquid hand wash are becoming a part of the essentials.
The government in Kenya, has undergone a decision to a full lock down in the refugee camps, as the government considers that those are the most possible sources of the outbreak of the virus. The Kenya government has taken steps like installation of quarantine facility, which can sustain
2,000 people, and one COVID-19 dedicated health facility which includes 110 beds, for more than 2,70,000 people, as said by Philippa Crosland-Taylor, a Geneva based organization, CARE.
In India, it was reported in The Wire that on 1st May, the government had assisted the migrants to go back to their homes, with the help of Shramik Special trains, which did not include any Rohingya refugees, as they were considered to be ILLEGAL MIGRANTS, as per the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. One should make a point that the virus is highly contagious. Therefore, if it happens to one person, it will spread to the other person, quite swiftly, and the symptoms will crop up after 14 days. Therefore, social distancing is a must for all.
India’s neighboring country, Bangladesh, the government has set up its refugee camps in Cox Bazaar, but at present, it’s under a complete lockdown, which has caused immense harm to them, as it has restricted the movement of the ‘AID WORKERS’.
Steps Taken by The Government Round All Over the World and In Other International Organizations:
In India, organization like the UNHCR, Delhi has undertaken one of the steps like, distributing hygiene kits in the refugee camps for their well being and sanitation.
Alongside, in UNHCR, Mexico, they have undertaken distributing soap bars in refugee shelters in Tijuana.
The governments round the world are implementing policies to flatten the curve.
Economic Inclusion of the Refugees:
The reason behind the rationale is for the improvement of the livelihood of the refugees. If
the refugees are provided with a proper platform for the performance of their jobs, then it will help to enhance the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the nation. A point most be noted that the refugees are those who have asked to leave their country of origin, for the purpose of a way, or a natural calamity, or persecution, and the readers should not misguide themselves with the meaning of MIGRANTS. Migrants are those who settle in another country for their betterment, like improvement of the standard of living, providing quality education to their children, etc. The economic developers must remember that, “an idle brain can lead to a devil’s workshop”. If the refugees are not asked to work, and are kept them idle, along with making them vulnerable to more hardships, like underpayment, lack of human rights, etc, then, they will opt for other methods like terrorism.
The Right to Work for the refugees falls under Articles 17 to 19 and 24 of the 1951 convention. Alongside, the Right to Work and labor rights are enshrined under Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and ILO (International Labor Organization) Recommendation 205. Another point that is to be noted is that Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights contain the provisions legally binding states to safeguard everyone’s right to earn a living through work.
There has been a misconception that inclusion of refugees can lead to a degradation of the economy, as it so happens that they tend to occupy the job positions. But, it is the other way round. Studies have revealed and proved that, the refugees can boost the economy of the countries that they are residing in, which includes the middle-income countries too! Studies have shown that, they help to contribute US$ 56 Million per annum!
The asylum seekers are also neglected because, people think that they are mad, and do not have the capacity to work, and can harm the society. But, to my opinion, I believe that, if they are explained properly, with time, then they can also perform much better.
Why Economic Inclusion Is the Key:
The key points are as follows:
- Helps in rebuilding lives: When the refugees will start to earn their own living, then, firstly, it will help to boost their potential, confidence, and will also generate a sense of
- Self-dependence. It will also help to boost the economic development of the host country. Rebuilding lives for the refugees is the most important point, as they must make themselves comfortable in the host country, or else, it can lead to other negative things, like they could become a psychiatric patient, or could also end up doing ill jobs, which can in turn harm the host country.
- Rebuilding lives: As the meaning of the word REFUGEES mean that those groups of people who have been asked to leave their country of origin, to eliminate war, persecution or a natural calamity. It is quite tough for the refugees to rebuild themselves in a country, which is absolutely new to them. Therefore, it is important to provide them with a small opportunity by handing them with small jobs, in places like construction areas, factories, etc, so that; they can earn their daily bread, with a sense of self-reliance.
- Safety: Another point that the refugees look for in the host countries is SAFETY. Safety does not only mean providing a secured job, with lots of insurances. Mental safety and peace is also necessary, like reduction of movement for jobs from one place to the other. If safety is provided, then they will help to enhance the economic development of the country. Also, then they will remain in the job for a long run.
- Gender Equality: According to report in 2018, by Georgetown Institute for Women, peace, and security in 36 countries as classified by the World Bank was reported that 4 out of every 10 women (40%) are paid in the work, as compared to 7 out of 10 men (70%) are paid in the work. Gender inequality is a big issue these days. Women are always looked backward. If women get paid properly, then it so happens that their children will have a chance to go to a proper education in schools, than begging on streets. Also, they will have a proper nutrition. Most of the children, of the refugees suffer from malnutrition.
- Enhancement of skills: There are various types of skills like, educational skills, vocational skills, etc. Vocational skills are very important for the refugees as, later they will have a chance to work in factories, and other repairs shops (for vehicles, home essentials, etc.), which will in turn help to enhance their future, and their families too. Their skills will also come to use when they will go back to their country of origin, later, as at that point of time, they might face some job issues too, where, their skills will later help them to prove.
Ways And Need for Gendered Perspective on The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic to Mitigate Adverse Impacts On Female Refugees:
After the devastation that has been caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has hit the FEMALE GENDER the hardest, unlike the men. Alongside, job losses in the United States has hit the female workers the highest. The females are asked to work in those areas, which are likely to shut, after a couple of days, or the company is unable to generate a good amount of revenue. In these cases, the female workers are chosen because; it is believed that, they will work for hours, but with a half income. It should be pondered that, gender is not the only criteria that has to be looked upon. RACISM is another criterion that must be looked upon.
Comprehensive approaches to Mitigate toxic narratives against migrants: People are found to be migrating to some other countries, with the increase in nationalist discourse in various countries in the world. People are found to be migrating due to reasons like war, tribal and religious violence. Many refugees do not come back to their country, instead remain in the country where they have travelled to. Due to this many resident of that country spread toxic narratives against them, because people think that the refuges can lessen the job prospects, but the actual scene is just the reverse. Many people have been found spreading hate speech, which really hurts the refugees. Hate speeches are those which is understood as any type of communication which could be in speech, behaviour, writing, film, short videos, etc, that is discriminatory in nature. Also, many refugees are often sent to asylum, as it has been found that many of them often suffer from insanity. Because of that, they are often termed as “Asylum
Seekers”. It is very difficult for people to understand the situations that they go through. Many refugees are causing “threat”, as they are different from the culture, style. Language, places, etc of the place where they are residing in. But statistics have revealed that refugees are likely to cause the least violence, as they are least involved in those matters. People should understand the reason behind fleeing from one country to another, I.e. due to war, violence, etc. Many people were found bullying to the refugees. A research was conducted, and was found out that in Italy, the migrant and refugee children are the considered to be the most victims of bullying, then their peers.
To curb these, the following steps must be adopted:
- Stringent laws must be passed to curb hate speeches against the refugees, as hate speech is prohibited by the international law.
- Steps should be taken to curb the spread of fake information about the refugees. On social media, people are found to be spreading wrong and fake news, which intern leads to violence in the society. This affects the peace and harmony of the society.
- The politicians need to act in a more stringent manner and help the new refugee comers to settle down. Enough protection should be given to them as they are not aware of the language, culture, etc.