IOM Asia Pacific Covid-19 Response - Situation Report 5 (20 April 2020)
COVID-19 cases in Asia and the Pacific continue to increase at a steady pace with countries augmenting responses as well as maintaining stringent mobility restrictions. As of 19 April, over 247,500 cases and more than 12,000 deaths have been reported in the region. Confirmed cases have been reported in 281 countries, territories and/or areas, with new cases reported on a daily basis. IOM missions in the region are working with governments and partners to ensure that migrants, whether in regular or irregular situations, returnees and forcibly displaced persons are included in efforts to mitigate and combat the illness’s impact. There are increasingly serious concerns regarding stranded and vulnerable migrants abroad and their ability to satisfy basic needs. IOM missions are working closely with governments, CSOs and UNCT in host countries to devise context-specific and appropriate responses. In addition to the immediate health risks of COVID-19, the situation poses significant socio-economic and protection challenges for migrants excluded from or unable to access support mechanisms. There are also increasing reports of stigma and discrimination towards migrants at destination, transit and home locations upon return, due to fears around COVID-19 transmission. Devising adequate responses for migrants, refugees, IDPs, returnees and other vulnerable groups remains the top priority for IOM. High numbers of COVID-19 cases in Iran (Islamic Republic of) have pushed more than 177,000 Afghans to return to Afghanistan since the beginning of March. In the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, following the announcement of lockdown measures in Thailand, over 193,000 cross-border migrants from neighboring countries returned to their home provinces or countries, including Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar. These kinds of migration movements may have the unintended effect of driving transmission in areas with less capacity to provide testing, isolation and treatment, as well as increase vulnerability for migrants during their journey and in their home communities.