Experts exchange viewpoints on the impacts of COVID-19 on migration and remittances


Staff Report

Experts, researchers and academes in the field of labour migration gathered virtually for two days of  intellectual exchanges on the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the flow of global migration and remittances in South Asia and Southeast Asia on October 27 and 28.

The “Impact of COVID-19 on migrants, migration flows and remittances: Focus on South and South East Asia” webinar series has been organised and hosted via ZOOM by the Centre on International Migration, Remittances and Diaspora (CIMRAD), of the Lahore School of Economics in Pakistan, which specialises in the study and analysis of international migration and its social and economic consequences –with a focus on the diaspora and the flow of remittances.

The highly engaging series of discussion was divided into four sessions in which four groups of experts have been assigned to make separate presentations based on their field of expertise.

The first group includes Prof. Philippe Fargues, Founding Director of Migration Policy Centre, EUI in Florence, Italy (Impacts of COVID-19 on Migrants Around the World, Including South and Southeast Asia); Dr. G. M. Arif, former Joint Director of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) along with Dr. Shujaat Farooq, Assistant Professor at PIDE (COVID-19, Overseas Migration and Domestic Labour Market of Pakistan: Challenges and Opportunities for Employment); Almazia Shahzad, research fellow at the Graduate Institute of Development Studies (GIDS) (The Impact of COVID-19 on Remittance Inflows to Pakistan: Lessons from the Experience During the Global Financial Crisis); and Dr. Ibrahim Awad, Professor of Practice of Global Affairs, who is also the Director of Center for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at the American University in Cairo (AUC) as discussant.

Dr. Françoise De Bel-Air, Senior Fellow at the Gulf Labour Markets and Migration Programme (GLMM) (Asian Migrants in the Gulf on the Eve of the COVID-19 Pandemic) belonged to the second group, as wells as Dr. Ahsan Ullah, Associate Professor at the University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD) & Dr. Diotima Chattoraj, researcher at UBD (Migrant’s Life is Locked up Under Lockdown in the COVID-19 Pandemic); Dr. Ganesh Gurung, Founding Chairperson of the Nepal Institute of Development Studies (NIDS) & Mr. Mahendra Rai, researcher at NIDS (Impact of COVID-19 on Migration and Nepali Economy); Shabarinath Nair, Labour Migration Specialist at the International Labour Organization (ILO) as discussant.

On the second day, a new group of experts led the online discussion. This includes Dr. C. R. Abrar, Director at the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) (Gaps in Bangladesh’s Response to Emergency Return and Deportation of Migrant Workers During COVID-19 Situation); Dr. Maruja M. B. Asis, Director, Scalabrini Migration Center (Supporting Overseas Filipino Workers in the Pandemic: An Unfolding Saga); Mr. Froilan Malit, Jr., Associate at GLMM & Dr. Anuj Tiwari, co-founder of Center for Migration and International Relations (Limits of State Protection: Sending States, Interstate Diplomacy and COVID-19 Pandemic); Dr. Nasir Iqbal, Professor at PIDE (Illegal Migration from Pakistan to Europe: Role of economic and institutional factors) and Manolo Abella, former Director of International Migration Programme at the ILO as discussant.

In the afternoon session, another group have given their presentations. They were Dr. Piyasiri Wickramasekara, Global Migration Policy Associates (GMPA) (COVID-19 impact on migrants and migrant workers in Malaysia and Singapore with special focus on South Asian workers); Dr. Bilesha Weeraratne, Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) (Implications of COVID-19 Pandemic on Sri Lanka’s Worker Migration & Remittances); Dr. Nasra Shah, Professor at GIDS with Maham Hameed, Research Fellow at GIDS (Beyond Oil Prices: Social and political factors likely to affect the demand for future migrants in the Gulf countries) and Dr. Lubna Al-Kazi, Director of the Women’s Research and Studies Center at Kuwait University as discussant.

CIMRAD Director, Dr. Rashid Amjad, who welcomed all speakers and participants on the first day of the virtual meeting, gave his conclusions and way forward speech on the second day and last session of the webinar series.