Results of the SHARE NETWORK SURVEY
Impact of COVID-19 for refugees, migrants & the organisations working with them
The SHARE Network online survey mapped the impact of COVID-19 for welcome, integration and inclusion in the EU - for asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and the organisations working with and alongside them.
Survey questions covered both the negative impacts of the crisis, and potential opportunities it has presented for refugees, migrants and integration that can be taken forward during the recovery. Questions provided suggested responses from which participants could select as many options as they felt relevant, alongside space to note any impacts not included in survey answer choices and provide additional information. Scroll down to view the survey questions and responses...
Just over 23% of survey responses highlighted as a key impact of COVID-19 restrictions for refugees and migrants. Interrupted activities included language learning (8.8%), school education (7.5%) and adult education and training (7%). Although many of these activities moved online, was limited by a lack of equipment or internet connection (8.2%) and digital/technical skills (7.3%).
8% of responses pointed to how lockdowns had exacerbated the isolation and mental health difficulties already disproportionately experienced by refugees and migrants. The specific impacts for refugee and migrant women were highlighted in a number of responses, particularly their increased vulnerability to domestic and/or intimate partner violence (4%).
Just under 9% of responses noted a lack of access to basic services by refugee and migrants, due both to legal status (particularly undocumented persons), and to services moving to online/telephone provision without accompanying translation or interpretation. This lack of mainstream support is particularly important given the 3.6% of responses that indicated the pandemic has affected refugee and migrants’ capacity to meet their basic needs.
10% of responses noted negative impacts for asyluim seekers and migrants caused by delayed asylum (6%) and immigration (4%) procedures. Continued proedures were not always viewed pocitively, however, as others noted how asylum procedures ongoing during lockdowns had caused people refused asylum to become ineligible for mainstream support and pandemic assistance. Additional comments also highlighted the significant impact of the pandemic on development benefits accruing from labour migration, including declining global remittances and requests for return assistance made to national authorities in countries of origin, by migrant workers who had lost their jobs in destination countries.
The biggest impacts of COVID-19 for survey respondents were on the operational activities of their organisations.
Just over a quarter (26.5%) noted the closure of planned programmes and activities, with negative impacts for donors unable to disburse funds and receiving organisations unable to use resources that had been allocated to their work. 4% reported a loss of funding caused by these delays.
19% highlighted the need to remove face-to-face contact from their service provision to comply with social contact regulations, and 12% the pandemic travel restrictions causing the suspension of arrivals under resettlement (10%) and sponsorship (2%) programmes.
Increased support needs amongst refugees and migrants resulting from the pandemic also created significant challenges for organisations working with them, as noted in just under 20% of survey responses. 8% of responses pointed to staff and volunteer shortages, including temporary staff lay-offs and the older volunteers with health vulnerabilities no longer being able to carry out their roles.
27% of responses noted an increase in volunteering opportunities for refugees and migrants arising from the COVID-19 situation, alongside an increased interest from local communities in volunteering for integration (8.5%). New employment opportunities for refugees and migrants were more limited by comparison, and noted by 7.3% of responses.
Just over 14% highlighted increased opportunities for migrants to regularise or extend their legal residence in European countries, highlighting examples such as the Portuguese government’s initiative that offered approximately 375,000 migrants temporary regularised status and access to healthcare and social support. Additional comments urged that national authorities make regularisation schemes permanent, using lessons learned from the successes temporary initiatives developed in response to COVID-19.
13% of responses noted an increased public awareness of the role of migrant labour in essential roles and sectors brought about by COVID-19. Examples included Finland, in which difficulties in recruiting migrant fruit pickers during lockdown led to the hiring of Finnish citizens to carry out these roles. Some Finnish fruit-picking recruits made complaints about working conditions and pay, which has prompted new public discussion and interest in improving conditions for migrant workers in Finland.
7% of survey responses noted improved and new cooperation between stakeholders and institutions in the context of integration and inclusion during COVID-19, in particular the closer engagement of public authorities and the private sector.