COVID-19 and Migration for Work in South Asia

Private Sector Responsibilities



The impacts of COVID-19 in South Asia have heightened and further exposed the vulnerability of migrant workers. These workers and their families are frequently overlooked in the pandemic response – and children are too often ignored in the discourse on migrant workers. Businesses and governments are responsible for protecting all workers from human rights abuses. When this is not done, previous achievements and future development are put in peril. This report was developed to:

  • Describe and analyse the impacts of COVID-19 on South Asian migrant workers and their families;
  • Provide a child rights perspective to the discourse on labour migration; and
  • Outline recommendations for the private sector to support migrant workers impacted by the pandemic, as South Asia’s countries rebuild their social and economic systems.


Looking to the future: Many vital initiatives in South Asia’s pandemic response and recovery offer opportunities for the public and private sector to work in partnership to secure a better future for all workers and their families, including ‘children on the move’. Based on evidence investigated during May 2020–January 2021, the report features recommendations for the COVID-19 context and beyond – beginning with primary actions to take on employment, recruitment and remittance services and on to ensuring basic services (access to education, child-friendly shelter, nutritious food, WASH facilities) and strengthening crucial safety nets through social protection that reaches the many millions of migrant workers who labour in the informal sector.

The full report is complemented by a stand-alone executive summary. 

Use the drop down menu on the right to download the Full Report and the Executive Summary 

UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia
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