Migrant workers in the COVID-19 era: Is it worth the risks?

Chapter Authors: M.J. Edoru and A.T. Sanni


This chapter examines the migration of workers across the globe and whether it is worth leaving ones’ country of birth. International migration has been steadily increasing in every region of the globe since the end of World War II. Migration from the developing countries to the developed ones has increasingly become a major challenge for European and American governments and is often referred to as a new security challenge (Tsoukala, 2011; Tallmeister, 2013, Hellwig and Sinno, 2017). Within the context of Africa, migration to the Middle Eastern countries (such as Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon) has resulted in undesirable consequences for the migrants. Many of these often are poorly remunerated, enslaved, sexually abused, killed, and subjected to other forms of dehumanisation (Jureidini, 2010; Wickramage, De Silva and Peiris, 2017). Migrants represent a cheaper option to deal with existing labour/skills shortages, and few countries have developed measures to assist migrants with integration. This paper is based on a documentary review. In the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, which naturally should restrain people from travelling, our discussion seeks to answer the question of why is migration on the increase? And what are the associated health risks? We will also discuss the possible influence of migration on the health care sector of the recipient countries. We conclude by calling for social re-engineering in the protection of migrants by concerned recipient countries and relevant labour and human rights organizations to address the problems of inequality and job insecurity for those who find themselves in such a situation across the globe.

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