IOM Asia-Pacific Appeals for USD 90.7 Million as Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Top 310,000 Across Region

Bangkok – ​As the number of new confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continue to rise across the region, the International Organization for Migration’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific is stepping up its work with governments and partners to ensure that all migrants, returnees and other displaced persons are included in efforts to mitigate and combat the pandemic’s impact. To support this vital work, the IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific this week (29/04) launched its Regional Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for USD 90.7 million.

As of 30 April 2020, 314,770 COVID-19 cases and more than 14,589 deaths had been reported in the Asia and Pacific region. Confirmed cases have been reported in 28 countries, territories and/or areas in the region, with new cases reported on a daily basis.

In a region with a population of 4.6 billion people of which 84 million are international migrants and 13 million are internally displaced, specific regional factors exacerbate migrant vulnerability in the context of COVID-19. These include high rates of urbanization and densely populated cities, which often lead to crowded living and working conditions for migrants. Furthermore, as a result of natural disasters and conflicts, large numbers of refugees and IDPs live in displacement sites or evacuation centres across the region, presenting extremely high-risk environments for COVID-19 transmission.

“Mobility is a defining feature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Never before has a disease spread so far and so fast in an interconnected world, never before has movement of people been so curtailed, and never before have the existing inequalities between vulnerable groups been so stark,” said Dr Nenette Motus, IOM Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

Dr Motus added that migrants are particularly vulnerable in the face of this disease, and not just in one location but across the region, particularly as many have lost their ability to move or return home. From increased transmission risk due to living and working conditions; to lack of access to prevention methods and treatment; to stigma, discrimination and exclusion from social protection, migrants are high risk populations in high risk environments who are being left behind in national COVID response efforts. 

“We are seeing in some countries, the dire consequences of not including migrants in the efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic with evidence of higher rates of transmission among vulnerable populations who do not have access to the same prevention and treatment,” she added.

“A critical component of easing restrictions and moving forward in a world with COVID-19 is having systems in place that help reduce and prevent importation and exportation of cases. This can only be achieved through multisectoral efforts at points of entry and border crossings to prepare, detect and respond to cases and allow global travel, trade, migration and remittances to resume,” said Dr Patrick Duigan, IOM Asia-Pacific Regional Migration Health Specialist. He added that IOM, as the UN migration agency, has the global capacity to do this and without such measures at borders, migration and the global economy cannot move forward.

In Asia and the Pacific, IOM operates 99 offices with over 4,000 staff and leads an array of programmes covering the humanitarian and development spectrum, enabling the Organization to support all identified priority areas for the COVID-19 response, including coordination and planning, risk communication and community engagement, disease surveillance, interventions at Points of Entry (PoE), case management, infection prevention and control, protection, population or human mobility tracking and socio-economic assistance.

IOM Regional Office in Asia and the Pacific is contributing to the overall objectives of IOM’s revised Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) which presents a comprehensive, coordinated response that addresses both immediate and long-term health concerns, while limiting the humanitarian and socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, and aiding communities to prepare for recovery in a safe and dignified manner.

In line with the IOM global SPRP, the regional plan for Asia and the Pacific focuses on four strategic priorities at the community, national and regional levels, which are:

  • Ensuring a well-coordinated, informed and timely response through mobility tracking systems and strengthening partnership and coordination structures established at the community, national and regional levels.
  • Contributing to global, regional, national and community preparedness and response efforts for COVID-19 to reduce associated morbidity and mortality.
  • Ensuring access of affected people to basic services and commodities, including health care, and protection and social services.
  • Supporting international, national and local partners to respond to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.

You can follow updates on IOM Asia and the Pacific’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in this latest situation report.

For an overview of IOM’s global plans and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by, or at risk of, crisis and displacement in 2020 and beyond, please go to IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform.   

For more information, please contact Itayi Viriri at IOM’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok at Tel: +63 917 890 8785,