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Voluntary and Forced Return Migration Under a Pandemic Crisis

Release date: 2022-01

The Covid-19 pandemic has an impact on migrants’ return desires and actual returns across the globe. Border closures in the face of pandemic lead to the panic mobility of those returning home. The ensuing lockdowns and economic difficulties restricted migrant workers’ access to income and protection, pushing them to return. The pandemic brought evident risks for the regular migrants’ access to healthcare, financial security, and social protection, forcing them to consider the return option too. For irregular migrants, the pandemic further increased the risk of forced returns, including detention, deportation, and pushbacks. For all migrants, decisions are marked by a deep dilemma between staying and returning. Meanwhile, receiving, sending, and transit countries, as well as international organisations are involved in return processes by providing logistics, on the one hand, and stigmatising returnees as carriers of virus, on the other. This study is based on desk research and analysis of the scholarly literature, reports, and grey literature from international organizations, civil society reports, scientific blogs, and media reports. An emphasis on returns provides us broader insights to evaluate changing characteristics of migration and mobility in ‘pandemic times’, the governance of returns, its consequences, and the rhetoric about returnees.

Please find the book chapter here