Finally, this special issue features a number of contributions focusing on the analysis of the inclusion/exclusion. Galstyan and Galstyan focus on the role of social remittances during the pandemic based on their study of Armenian transnational families with migrants in Russia, Belarus and the Czech Republic. They show that “pandemic transnationalism”, understood as a form of exchange of information and best practices to cope with the virus, acts in two directions, and is a caring effort between family members who migrated and those who stayed behind. The authors point out that migrants act as intermediaries of ideas and that the information circulating within the family interacts with the pandemic norms stipulated by governments and there is even a greater degree of trust in the information circulating in their own networks.
Anoji Ekanayake and Kopalapillai Amirthalingam show, in their contribution on the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Sri Lankan migrants in Qatar, that the pandemic has had significant implications for the position of labor migrants, especially wage cuts. Especially low- skilled migrants have faced issues of financial instability and have often been unable to transfer remittances to their home country, nor have they been able to pay their debts or afford food and other basic necessities. This group has had to turn to their relatives in Sri Lanka to send them money, increasing so-called reverse remittances. According to the authors, in terms of migration aspirations, a significant number of migrant workers are considering the possibility of returning permanently to the country of origin.
Asma Khan and Arokkiaraj Heller focus on reverse migration in India, both internal migrants and international migrants who have returned from Gulf countries. In India’s pandemic-time economic conditions, significant “involuntary” and “forced” reverse migration has emerged, providing challenges of strategies enabling (or restricting) return and integration. The main problems they face are unemployment, lack of financial support, wage theft and delayed payments, costly repatriation and lack of access to social security. This highlights the insecurities that migrants often face and that surface in the pandemic, as well as the lack of welfare systems to help migrants mitigate these insecurities. This lack of opportunities in their places of origin makes workers think about migrating again once the crisis subsides.
Almina Besic, Andreas Diedrich and Petra Aigner focus on labor market integration support for refugees. They show that in the cases of Austria and Sweden, where a multi-level support structure is in place, the pandemic reinforced already ongoing activities in the field of labour market integration support. The pandemic “further anchored” broader developments, contributed to further mainstreaming and increased work volatility. The authors suggest that developments that were accelerated during the pandemic may over time consolidate as structural approaches towars labour market integration.
Finally, Espinoza et al. argue, in their contribution on social protection systems for migrants and refugees in seven Latin American countries, that the pandemic has triggered specific governance changes. One is that for migrants and refugees, most countries prioritized the provision of basic need and stepped down other measures, which may affect the long-term process of integration. Also, in various cases, pandemic responses came with temporary limitations to exclude migrants based on legal states from social protection, thereby increasing the vulnerability of migrants. The text raises three issues for debate: the so-called “humanitarian crises”, “social rights” and “migration governance policies and practices”.
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