UN Secretary General Policy Brief: COVID-19 and People on the Move

Publication date

Jun 03, 2020


Released on 3 June, the UN Secretary General's Policy Brief on COVID-19 and People on the Move analyzes the impacts of COVID-19 on migrants, refugees, IDPs, and the future of human mobility.



"The COVID-19 crisis presents us with an opportunity to reimagine human mobility for the benefit of all while advancing our central commitment of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind," affirms UN Secretary General António Guterres in the newly released UN SG Policy Brief on COVID-19 and People on the Move.

The brief outlines how COVID-19 is affecting refugees, migrants, and internally displaced persons who face three combined crises: a health crisis, a socio-economic crisis, and a protection crisis. While people on the move are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19's broad-ranging and devestating effects in both developing and developed countries, migrants have also been contributing heroically on the frontlines in essential work.

Four core understandings are needed to guide the way towards reimagined human mobility in light of the COVID-19 crisis, where no one is left behind and migration is leveraged for global and local development. First, exclusion is costly and inclusion pays. An inclusive public health and socio-economic response will help suppress the virus, restart our economies and advance the Sustainable Development Goals. Second, we must uphold human dignity in the face of the pandemic and learn from the handful of countries that have shown how to implement travel restrictions and border controls while fully respecting human rights and international refugee protection principles. Third, no-one is safe until everyone is safe.  Diagnostics, treatment and vaccines must be accessible to all. Fourth and finally, people on the move are part of the solution. Let us remove unwarranted barriers, explore models to regularize pathways for migrants and reduce transaction costs for remittances.

"No country can fight the pandemic or manage migration alone. But together, we can contain the spread of the virus, buffer its impact on the most vulnerable and recover better for the benefit of all."

Read the full brief here.