IOM survey shows impact of COVID-19 on migrant population in Central America and Mexico

Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Other, Panama
8 September, 2020

San José - 57% of those who intend to migrate decided to postpone or cancel their plans due to the pandemic, while 21% of those who already migrated are contemplating returning to their country of origin as soon as their economic conditions or the countries' migration and health measures allow them to do so. This is shown by a survey conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) among migrants from Central America and Mexico.


More than 1,600 people participated during the month of June 2020 in this survey, organized by the IOM, in order to learn about the impact of the pandemic on migration projects, socioeconomic situations, physical and mental health, and risk factors related to the migrant population in this region.  


In the issue of employment, more than half (51%) of the migrants who participated in the survey said they have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, while only 20% are currently working. Additionally, 4 out of 10 migrants who are, saw their working hours and/or wages reduced. Forty-eight percent indicate that their economic remuneration (41%) or income (7%) was reduced due to COVID-19.


In relation to health, 99% of migrants declared that they comply with the preventive health measures for COVID-19, while 7% suspected that they had contracted the disease at some point. Of these, only a third used health services, which reinforces the importance of ensuring health access for migrants. Of the suspected cases, 60% were between 26 and 45 years old and no migrant over 66 years old believed to have contracted the disease.  


The mental health of migrants has also been affected, with 59% facing situations such as widespread fear of contagion, isolation, uncertainty, socio-economic consequences and concerns about the pandemic. Some of these concerns include being misled or exploited when seeking work opportunities (92%). Even so, 78% would assume the risk of being hired abroad without being properly informed, evidencing the need to find a source of income and the high risk of becoming victims of trafficking networks.  


The survey collected 1,660 responses during the month of June 2020 through an online questionnaire. Among those who participated, 45% were men, 54% women and 1% non-binary persons, and, overall, mostly (61%) between 26 and 45 years old. This activity was carried out within the framework of the Regional Program on Migration Mesoamerica- The Caribbean , with funding from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.  


If you wish to consult the full report, you can do so here. For more information, contact Tatiana Chacón at the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean at