Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 on the Vulnerabilities of Migrants on the Central Mediterranean Route

Measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 have had significant effects on migrants via the Central Mediterranean Route (CMR). As part of the IMREF consortium*, Seefar has interviewed migrants stranded in Gao (Mali), Agadez (Niger) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) to understand the challenges they face. The study explores the effects of COVID-19 containment measures on their mobility patterns, vulnerabilities and access to health and protection services. 

Its findings draw from 36 remote qualitative interviews with transit migrants, 24 semi-structured interviews with key informants, 186 quantitative surveys with refugees and migrants collected by the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) in the three study locations, and 172 desk-based sources.

The study found that:

  • Travel restrictions and increased border controls had made it harder for migrants to continue journeys northwards and back home. 
  • Despite evidence of decreased flows, there were signs that some migrants continued to cross borders, including into Libya and Algeria.
  • Smuggling activities had decreased in the short-term because of border closures and increased border controls.
  • Migrants faced depleted financial resources, primarily as a result of longer stays in transit hubs, increasingly limited work opportunities or reduced pay. 
  • Depleted resources were causing increased levels of anxiety and stress, limiting access to food, shelter, hygiene products and services, and in some cases pushing migrants into potentially exploitative situations. 

Click to download the executive summaryfull reportdesk review and annexes.

If you have questions or feedback on the study, please contact IMREF Research Manager <pauline.v@seefar.org>. 

*Seefar forms part of the consortium delivering the Independent Monitoring, Rapid Research and Evidence Facility (IMREF) of the SSS Phase II programme commissioned by the Department for International Development (DFID).

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