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UN urges countries to protect people on move during COVID-19

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked for protection of people on the move in face of COVID-19.

In a video message for the launch of a policy brief on the impact of coronavirus on people on the move, Guterres asked countries to develop a new mindset on human mobility, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity to re-imagine human mobility. Four core understandings must guide the way,” he said.

First, exclusion is costly and inclusion pays. An inclusive public health and socio-economic response will help suppress the virus, restart the economies and advance the Sustainable Development Goals, said Guterres.

Second, human dignity must be upheld in face of the pandemic. Lessons should be learned from the handful of countries that have shown how to implement travel restrictions and border controls while fully respecting human rights and international refugee protection principles, he said.

Third, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Diagnostics, treatment and vaccines must be accessible to all, said the UN chief.

Fourth, people on the move are part of the solution, he noted. “Let us remove unwarranted barriers, explore models to regularize pathways for migrants and reduce transaction costs for remittances.”

Guterres expressed gratitude to countries, especially developing countries, that have opened their borders and hearts to refugees and migrants, despite their own social, economic and health challenges.

People on the move face a protection crisis as more than 150 countries have imposed border restrictions to contain the spread of the virus. At least 99 states make no exception for people seeking asylum from persecution. At the same time, fear of COVID-19 has led to skyrocketing xenophobia, racism and stigmatization, he said.

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