This mid-year edition of A Region on the Move is marked by the unprecedented restrictions on global mobility caused by the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Since it was initially reported on 31 December 2019, this disease has spread rapidly across the globe, leading the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare it a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Beyond the tragic impact that COVID-19 has generated across countries, the pandemic has urged governments to issue multiple restrictive measures impacting movements, including different types of closure of Points of Entry (PoEs), requirements for additional documentation, compulsory quarantine or medical screening procedures, up to nation-wide and/or localized lockdowns. Nonetheless, the global mobility context amidst the COVID-19 pandemic remains highly fluid, as governments and authorities continue to issue new mobility restrictions and policy changes.
This edition has also brought in a number of important enhancements, in view of the fact that the quantity of data sources directly managed by IOM, the quality of the findings and their variety have drastically increased since 2017. IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) constitutes the main methodology used to track and monitor displacement and population mobility, as it maps internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnee stocks, migration flows and the characteristics of the population on the move.2 Building on three years of continuous observations and analyses, DTM is now the largest data source of migration flows across the main corridors in the region. Further migrant data is collected by IOM through modules targeting specific sub-groups of this population at different stages of their migration journey.
On top of this, and in order to inform effective migration management and evidence-based, strategic and policy-level discussion, multiple research efforts have been launched along the key migration routes in the region, in particular along the Eastern and Southern Routes, since 2019. Findings of these studies are integrated in the ‘Regional Mixed Migration Trends’ section to explore in more depth the drivers of migration and the profiles of migrants along these routes, as well as the nexus between decision-making, migrant expectations, risk perception and experienced realities. This analysis also uses external sources to further complement the mobility picture and provide a holistic understanding of such population movement dynamics. At the regional level, a Regional Data Hub (RDH) was established to enhance coordination, lead regional research efforts, harmonize the different data sources and foster a multi-layered analysis of regional migration data.