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Politics and International RelationsPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

Professor Riggirozzi and colleagues featured in Lancet Migration

Published: 1 July 2020

Together with project colleagues, Jean Grugel and Natalia Cintra, Professor Pia Riggirozzi was featured in the most recent 'Lancet Migration'. The piece, 'Protecting Migrants or Reversing Migration? How COVID-19 is impacting the lives of the most vulnerable in Latin America' is on right to health of forced migrants in Latin America and risks of protracted displacement, poverty and stigmatisation in the context of Covid-19.

Lancet Migration is a global collaboration between The Lancet and researchers, implementers, and others in the field of migration and health that aims to address evidence gaps and drive policy change, building on the recommendations of the UCL-Lancet Commission on Migration and Health.

In brief, the piece examines the impact of covid-19 on forced migrants in two major migration corridors involving Central American migrants from the northern triangle of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to Mexico; and from Venezuela to Colombia and Brazil. In both cases, the economic consequences of lockdown and the inhospitable climate for migrants that it has engendered, have forced hundreds of Venezuelan and Central American refugees and migrants to go back along the same route they took to flee and to return to the dangerous, deprived, violent conditions that they were trying to escape in the first place. This new cycle of COVID- catalysed reversal in migration flows is problematic for three key reasons:
First, forced migratory return will extend situations of protracted displacement in which migrants become trapped in a cycle of forced displacement even within their country of origin; many people are likely to leave again in the future, and, at the same time, this period of protracted displacement exacerbates the risk factors associated with it, including mental and physical violence (assault, sexual violence, etc), as well as limiting access to health and support services.
Second, reverse migration will increase the financial vulnerability of displaced people and migrants, as they are more likely to live in poverty, at risk of exploitation and abuse.
Finally, those returning to their country of origin may face anti-immigration sentiment and stigmatisation and can find themselves regarded as 'outsiders', and as 'not belonging' in their country of birth, seen as a drain on the limited economic resources and sometimes feared as a source of disease.

Read the article.

This research is part of the MIGHCommission series of briefs - available at

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