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International Migrants Day: How the Pandemic Happened to be the Worst for Migrant Workers

Challenges faced by Migrant workers amid the Pandemic

It is 18th December, a day which is widely seen as International Migrants Day. Tracing the history of the day, in 1997, Filipino and other Asian migrant organizations started identifying and celebrating 18th December as International Day of Solidarity with Migrants  This day is essentially chosen for this very reason. The UN had adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

This year has been a major trouble for the migrants as, amid the COVID pandemic, the group who was the most hit was them. We have seen pictures of thousands and lacks migrant workers, rushing back to their home towns in miserable conditions under the extreme heat of April – May. Essentially talking about India, an Indian Express report informs that a total of 97 lakh migrant laborers were transported back to their home towns.


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Our team spoke to Ramandeep, a mass communication graduate and a freelance journalist who happen to help the migrant workers with the rise of the pandemic in India. Here are the future challenges that Ramandeep has listed out to identify what the migrant workers faced during the early pandemic days in India and how is a situation like covid pandemic essentially happens to target the migrants –

Irrespective of the pandemic the migrants essentially live in not too well-off conditions with a lack of necessities. They generally don’t have the cultural and educational support to combat with the government policies and face an issue with maintaining the paperwork required to avail the benefits of any policy for them.

The first problem that got mounted due to covid is that people started losing their jobs. They had rented homes and with no job, the extreme crunch of money made them helpless as they had bills to pay, stomach to feed but no money to fulfill the needs. Telling about her own experience Ramandeep said that there used to be a plumber bhaiya who you used to call whenever needed. At one instance during the pandemic when we called him he told me that he has got no money to survive here even though he wants to live here, he will have to go back home.

Even when the government announced the Shramik Trains, people didn’t have those smartphones to book their tickets. On the railway reservation centers, there were huge queues for people who were asked to wait for maybe a month to about the confirmation of their tickets. And there was barely any open cafe during the early Covid days.

With so much happening around, with the lack of awareness, the government’s carelessness, and mismanaged identities, the migrants started getting depressed. As obviously, they had no food, no money, and losing hope of even being able to get back to their hometowns.

Well, we wonder if we can accurately identify the number of migrant workers who came back post lockdown as the government has had no data on migrant workers, there has been a section of migrant workers who are still not at their workplaces, might have lost jobs and accommodations, and have been in a miserable state.

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Ishika Aggarwal

Can write, shoot, listen, talk and procrastinate. A feminist at heart, Ishika is an avid writer and multimedia person who loves talking about women, realism, and society. When not working she is either seen watching films or making one.
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