COVID-19’s impact on migrant communities

2020.03.27

Author: European Web Site on Integration

One crucial part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is to make sure that all members of society have the information they need to stay healthy and follow quarantine guidelines. To ensure that migrants are not overlooked in the response, civil society organisations have been busy translating and communicating vital information to their communities. Authorities have also made an effort to communicate critical information in multiple languages.

Migrant community outreach

National and local authorities, civil society and international organisations are reaching out to migrant communities. For example: Estoniafurther information in Estonia, FranceItalyLuxembourgMaltaPolandSlovakia

Living conditions

As social distancing rules and guidelines are being implemented across Europe, authorities and migrant associations have expressed concern about the living conditions of some of the most vulnerable members of society. In Italy, migrants living in reception centres have written an open letter to authorities expressing their concerns about living in close, confined spaces. In Portugal, one municipality has prepared 500 quarantine places in case any foreign agricultural workers need to be isolated.

Residence and work permits

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted procedures to apply for and obtain residence and work permits, as government offices have reduced their services or closed during this time. Moreover, economic uncertainty related to the pandemic may have an impact on demand for work permits. For example: FranceGermanyLuxembourgMaltaSlovakia

Social connection and language learning

One of the challenges of the pandemic is that of maintaining social contact when meetings and events are cancelled, and physical distancing rules are in place. This can be especially difficult for migrants, who may not have had time to develop an extensive social network in the host country.

In Sweden, a language-learning programme has launched an online initiative that sets up virtual meetings between a newcomer and a Swede, helping to tackle both the newcomer’s need to continue language training and the need of both participants to stay connected to others.

The University of Warsaw in Poland has also launched a virtual meeting programme to help students from abroad get to know their Polish classmates, learn the language and learn about each other’s experiences and cultures. Meanwhile, the French interior ministry has gathered links to digital language learning tools that have been developed since 2017 in response to a call for projects launched by the ministry’s directorate for reception, accompaniment of foreigners and nationality (DAAEN).

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