How Covid-19 upended our understanding of migration, citizenship and inequality

Covid and migration

In Belgium, Marco Martiniello, Université de Liège and Anna Triandafyllidou, Ryerson University, are part of an ongoing research program between the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Université de Liège focuses on the social disparities in exposure to the Covid-19 virus, illness and death in the French speaking part of the country. It also examines to what extent previously existing social and health inequalities have grown during the early waves of the pandemics.

We publish an excerpt from an article published on September 23 about this research.



“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that the global system governing migration may not be sustainable. Temporary migration schemes including those for seasonal agriculture workers or those allowing for construction and care work no longer function when people’s mobility is hampered because of a rapidly circulating and dangerous virus.

We have also seen that migrants, refugees and immigrant minorities have been more severely affected, external link by the virus and have had poorer access to treatments and vaccinations, external link.

So should we reconsider the rights of citizens versus the rights of residents or temporary workers? The pandemic has exposed several of the contradictions of our domestic and global migration governance as well as the limitations of integration policies.

In or out?

Covid-19 has raised important questions about the many different ways of belonging to a country: where does the boundary between insiders and outsiders lie and who should be in or out?

We can imagine the effective population of a country as a set of concentric circles, external link: the inner group includes citizens, then come permanent residents (in the case of the Europe, EU citizens too), then temporary residents, who have been admitted to a country for a specific period; and then come those seeking entry, asylum-seekers, for protection purposes and general aliens.

Covid-19 pushed this outer circle of transient members of the community into the inner circle of those who effectively live in the country by forcing the closure of borders. At the same time, these transient members were still often internally excluded in some countries if they did not have access to emergency unemployment or family benefits.

This forced countries to consider what Canada has termed the “effective residence”, external link of temporary migrants. It pushed governments to ask where people live habitually, where they send their kids to school, where they pay taxes or have health coverage.

In Belgium, 400 temporary migrants recently went on hunger strike, external link to demand the right to remain in the country and are now in negotiations with authorities”.


you can find the entire article at this link:…