No One Is Saved Alone: ICMC Calls for Inclusive Global Recovery Measures That Respond to Migrants’ and Refugees’ Needs

ICMC’s statement at the 109th International Labour Conference identifies access to healthcare, vaccines, decent work and fundamental rights as the key to an effective global recovery from the pandemic.

No One Is Saved Alone: ICMC Calls for Inclusive Global Recovery Measures That Respond to Migrants' and Refugees' Needs
Venezuelan migrant Paul Aponte receives his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Countless migrants and refugees worldwide are still denied healthcare, including COVID-19 vaccines, diagnosis, and treatment. Inclusive public health policies are necessary to global recovery. © UNHCR/Santiago Arcos Veintimilla

As the world continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, humanitarian workers, frontline responders, healthcare professionals, and other essential workers continue to risk their lives to support others. Many of these workers are refugees and migrants.

Despite their significant role in response to COVID-19, refugees and migrants remain uniquely vulnerable to the pandemic’s impacts. On 15 June, on the occasion of the 109th session of the International Labour Conference, Ignacio Alonso Alasino, Project Manager of the “The Future of Work – Labour after Laudato si’”, delivered the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC)’s statement“No-one is Saved Alone” by drawing attention to the situation of refugees and migrants in five key areas:

  • Access to healthcare

Around the world, many refugees and migrants face barriers to accessing basic services, including health care. This lack of equitable access prevents many from benefiting from preventive measures including vaccines, diagnosis, and treatment for COVID-19. To build an effective global recovery, pandemic public health measures must be inclusive and available to all. 

  • Fundamental labor rights

Many refugees and migrants work in the informal economy. Migrant women in particular are widely engaged in the care and domestic work sectors. It is crucial that measures taken by the global community to relieve the economic and social consequences of the pandemic ensure respect for the fundamental labor rights of all workers, including those in the informal sector and in less secure roles.

  • Access to decent work

Globally, refugees and migrants are disproportionately affected by a lack of access to decent work. Pandemic recovery measures should seek to harness the positive impacts of improved access to jobs and decent employment conditions for refugees and migrants in countries of origin, transit, and destination, and for host societies.

  • International dialogue and cooperation

At a challenging time for international relations, effective recovery depends on positive cooperation among States, civil society, and other actors. The International Labour Organization can play a crucial role in defending the dignity of workers, including refugees and migrants, and in promoting social dialogue.

  • Learning lessons on inequality

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated global inequality, leaving more vulnerable populations (such as refugees and migrants) without access to basic rights including education, health care, and decent work. Drawing on the words of Pope Francis, the lesson learned from this unprecedented crisis should be “the awareness that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all.”

ICMC has long worked to improve access to decent work, training and livelihoods for migrants and refugees worldwide. Since 2016, it has been documenting and disseminating the global labor experiences of refugees and migrants for the program The Future of Work – Labour After Laudato si’.

The global project aims to build the capacity of Catholic and other faith-based organizations to promote and implement the message of Pope Francis’ second encyclical, Laudato si’. It focuses on countries of origin, transit, and destination and includes the experiences of returning and returned migrants. The project contributes to the ILO Centenary for the Future of Work initiative.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, ICMC has continued to advocate for access to decent work for labor migrants, including through collaboration with global civil society partners and stakeholders, and for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all people everywhere, including refugees and migrants. 

Established in 2019, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency bringing together governments, employers, and workers from 187 ILO member States. The ILO’s main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection, and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues. 

The International Labour Conference is the ILO’s annual policy-setting mechanism. It brings together government, worker, and employer delegates of ILO member States to establish and adopt international labor standards and participate in discussions on key social and labor questions. 

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