Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism hosted a virtual panel discussion entitled, “Gulf Migration: During and Aftermath COVID 19” held on 27th May 2020.
Dr. Nasra Shah, Professor, Lahore School of Economics, emphasized the need to understand and discuss the impact COVID 19 is going to have on irregular migrants. Prior to the pandemic, it is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of the workers in the Gulf were employed in an irregular capacity. The irregular status of such migrants puts them in a highly vulnerable position, she claimed. After talking briefly about the ways in which these workers might have entered into the irregular status, she spoke about the five ways in which these workers will find themselves in a vulnerable position due to the pandemic.
Firstly, they will find it more and more difficult to hide from the authorities. Secondly, the network that previously supported and protected them will now find it too risky to support them. Thirdly, friends and family who had provided shelter to these workers may not be willing or able to do so now due to the risk of contracting the virus. Fourthly, sponsors, who may have provided facilitation and protection earlier, would be less likely to be willing to do so now as it has become much more riskier for them to do so. Lastly, cordoning off and searches of high-risk areas has made it impossible for anyone in an irregular capacity to hide.
She also discussed how a sudden return of migrant workers would put a strain on the labour market and the economy of the sending countries.
To watch the full webinar, please click here.